Monday, 12 December 2011

Once again Millwall keeps it interesting till the very end

Last Saturday, Millwall hosted a friendly match against East London on Millwall Park. The win on 3rd December must have inspired a lot of the older players to come back and put on boots and Millwall shirts once again. Not a lot has changed in the game of Rugby since they last played. However, the suitability of one player’s headgear has to be questioned. And yes, that is the ball we nowadays play with – and you are quite right, the ball is not made out of leather anymore.

The match on Saturday was supposed to be a friendly - however, the actions on the pitch did not always fit that description. And it started already with the warm up …

After a few practice passes along the line the ball was flung to Roberto Pescador on the outside. With a clear line ahead of him he decided to refine his “run-across-the-try-line-and-score-technique”. However, Chico also wanted to perfect his “take-the-player-out-fullstop” technique – and so he did. Just before our Spaniard was able to cross the try line – Chico came flying in from the left, smashed into Senor Bobfish and both took out the flag post and came smashing down to the ground. Good tackle – but my advice would be: “Save it for the opposition”.
El Senor was a bit more direct in voicing his opinion – and a lot of “beep beep beeps” (once again, and in English) came waterfalling out his mouth.

Let’s hope Chico can repeat that evil tackle on the pitch – but against the opposition please!!

Before the players could exhaust themselves during warm up (some more than others of course) the referee Sean McCann finally decided it was time for the kick off.
Millwall started out really well. We dominated the field, kept marching forward and we used our chances to score a try early on. After receiving the ball from veteran player Stewart Perry (who luckily remembered how to pass), Mike Foulds outruns the oppositions and gets Millwall on the score board. Home Team five. East London nil.
However, a missed conversion from Dave Payton left the score at that.

Okay, one could say that it was his first – give the man time to get into the game … however 5 conversions later and only 2 of them kicked successfully, one might wonder where he learned to kick! Did he even know what he was supposed to do? Because everything he needed was there – the legs, the tee, the ball – the set-up was perfect.
Just the execution and the finish didn’t quite match up to that.
(Note to player: Practice, practice, practice …)

What we did practice and therefore were very good at were our scrums. A strong Millwall side pushed East London backwards, over and over again. But I am not sure whether everything was above board. You see, before the teams go into a scrum, the referee orders them to follow three simple steps:
Touch – Pause – Engage! Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Apparently it is not.

On several occasions, they followed Step 1, skipped number two and went straight into the engage mode! Not sure if that was our cleverly thought out tactic for a surprise attack on East London to push them back? If it was – not so clever after all if you set out to cheat in front of the referee …!?!
Perhaps they are just not good at following orders … (if not given by a woman!)

What the guys were following though were the line out calls (which then however negates my earlier theory … need to do some male brain research ... or was it brain wash?). Who comes up with the line out calls anyway? Some numbers have the sophistication of the Enigma code, some just cry out their phone numbers, while other players rattle trough their shopping list.
However, once the magic word is said – up they go, and hopefully grab the ball before a smaller (or heavier) opposition can reach it.

One of the main aims in Rugby is to also score a try – preferably more than just one!
(Just out of curiosity, why is it called a touchdown in American Football if they don’t actually have to touch it down – and in Rugby it is called a try, when a touchdown would be the more appropriate descriptive action of what actually needs to be done … decision of men I guess).

But whatever they decided to call it (with no logic behind it whatsoever) we scored five! Mike Foulds got us into the lead after an amazing run, his success quickly copied by James Wakefield (twice), and Randall Powell claims to have scored one as well. I say claim as it is quite hard to make out an individual player in a heap of players all lying upon another on, over and around the try line!

I was told by some supporters on the sideline (lets just call them AB and DG) that if a player misses a lot of tackles the only way to redeem himself is to score a lot of tries himself. As far as the bespoke player was concerned – redemption achieved (find out who they were talking about later on).

Millwall went into the second half leading 22 to 10 – which is a nice comfortable lead to take into the second half. But a lot can change in the game of Rugby – and it did. As mentioned earlier - a lot of missed (and sometimes late) tackles allowed East London to score 2 tries in a short period of time – and suddenly Millwall was trailing by 2 points. And not much time left on the clock (once again...).

When a player from the opposition has the ball, tackling is one way of stopping him to get close or even over our try line. However, to tackle legally, the person you are about to take down has to be in possession of the ball. (As correctly demonstrated by Mikka Paling). Mike Taylor on the other hand just had the “tackle the opposition” part on his mind – not concentrating too much on the important fact whether they had a ball or not.
(Note to Mike: The saying “Better late than never” does not apply to the game of Rugby, especially when tackling someone)

And so, on two occasions, an East London player made it past our line of defense and over our try line. Millwall 22 – East London 24.

With only a few more minutes to go, there was another substitution. My understanding always was: “Take off a player who is exhausted - bring on a player who is fresh and rested!” Apparently I was wrong!
While Martin Ward jogged off the pitch, Edward Williams slowly walked on. I was confused – even more so when I got a glimpse of that poor player.

Shouldn't you take someone off the pitch who can’t even walk anymore!

Never mind, after another successful scrum (following all 3 steps this time) the ball came out and was thrown to Mike Foulds once again. He saw an open space on his right side and took off. Around and through East London players – who just saw him whizz past. Not even an ankle-tap could stop him – and so he ran and crossed the try line. (The player has redeemed himself :)

Millwall is back in the lead and Dave Payton got his 2nd conversion of the day (remember, only 2 out of 5). As the referee decided enough is enough, he ends the game and Millwall wins again! Final score: Millwall 29 - East London 24.

With all the tackling, hitting, and uncontrollably swinging arms, Rugby seems to be quite a tough and violent sport. People get injured, people get hurt. And usually the injuries are genuine. However, when you are trying to sell the side effects of Botox injections as a Rugby injury … :)

But what would
a Rugby team be without its supporters who brave the cold to watch and cheer ... ... okay, this lot just watched then! Lot's more cheering next time please!

But never mind, as at the end of the game we brought home another WIN!
Congratulations to everyone on the team!

Let’s do it again next week!

1 comment:

  1. Chico you're a legend - great takle - funny as fk!