On a bitterly cold first day of the season, the team prepared themselves in King George’s Park for a double game evening in the O2 Touch Wandsworth Mixed Spring 2017 league – their debut appearance.
Having exhausted all attempts to stay warm through some enthusiastic passing and sideline sprints, the team gathered around captain Peter Clarke who channeled his best Matthew McConaughey for a ‘We Are Marshall’ inspired pre-game speech.
Game 1: PW Tue MXI vs RE Shufflers
The Shufflers’ first opponent, PW Tue MXI, required some assistance with their squad numbers. To save the day, Ed Bower happily subbed in, perhaps a little too eagerly nearly scoring several tries against his own team.
With the squad size advantage and debut passion from all, this was a useful first game that gave RE time to familiarise themselves with the rules and pre-game tactics, seeing some impressive breakaway tries from Michael Beeken and Alex Tindall.
A key highlight, which Phil Squires may need to be reminded (due to possible concussion), was the overwhelming enthusiasm which inspired him to run at full pace into an opponent’s forehead. This won him a beautiful shiner of a right eye – their player is rumored to be retiring due to such a collision.
The referee’s MVP was ever present and pacey winger Karen Rayment, who earned herself a cut lip after a spectacular diving try attempt late on in the game.
Result: 2 – 5 (Win)
Game 2: 2 Bold 2 Touch vs RE Shufflers
After barely five minutes’ rest, during which the team agreed their cardio levels were not as they once were, the Shufflers returned to the pitch against the daunting 2 Bold 2 Touch.
A pre-game reunion between Mackenzie Davis and a certain 2 Bold 2 Touch squad member, who also happened to be a female cross-fit and future Olympic weightlifting champion, served as useful espionage; for us to flag her as the one to watch.
This game was a hotly contested affair, closely fought with both teams showing a flurry of tries and defense errors in the first half which left RE facing the second half 3-2 down. Tensions ran high: rules were debated between the two captains and cries of “it’s just a game” fell on deaf ears.
Following a review of the playbook at half-time, we were able to regain momentum and score tries from dreamboat passes by George Bloxham and key yardage gains from Laura Kittle and Emily Stuttard.
Despite his rampant athleticism, Daniel Bull was unable to score a debut try for the team with each attempt falling short with dives only Jürgen Klinsmann could rival.
The team held on with strong defensive plays against their pacey opponents and closed out their first day of the season with the best possible start: two played, two won.
Result: 7 - 8 (Win)
A massive thank you to the squad for their efforts and spectators for supporting our glorious induction to the league, and to our worthy opponents.
We hope to see you all on Tuesday for the next eagerly anticipated fixture!