ON A BLEAK, sodden pitch in Shirley the veterans of Redditch Rugby Club celebrated England’s World Cup semi-final win over the All Blacks by donning their famed pink shirts to take on a strong Camp Hill side who edged to a 10-0 victory.
It did not augur well for the skill level of the game when the first dropped ball happened before the referee’s whistle had stopped echoing and so a game of pass the soap bar ensued.
The game was refereed with a generous spirit and there could have been one continuous scrum which would have suited the forwards.
The backs, however, may not have been so enthused, as it was their fingers that were slowly getting bluer by the minute and causing most of the dropped balls.
To keep themselves warmer, the back line of each side threw themselves at anything that moved. Having possession of the ball at times seemed secondary to the desire to huddle together and prevent frostbite.
There were some moments of skill as scrum half Garry Mills weaved and dodged in attack and tackled fearlessly in defence.
Duncan Davis in an unaccustomed centre punched holes in the mode of Manu Tuilagi, Pete Carr at No 8 had some storming runs and skipper for the day Paul Hughes BSc showed touches of the magic feet which graced local pitches before his move to Cornwall.
Jason Habgood chased and brought down his prey relentlessly and Wayne Sharpe and Aaron Atkinson as last line of defence kept the opposition at bay.
In the pack, Micky Jarrett, Dave Bush, Steve Wills, Neil Walsh and Wayne Buszko assisted by new friends from Bees performed at a level above all expectations considering the conditions.
With so much possession going to ground, it was perhaps no surprise the first half finished scoreless. In fact, neither side had got anywhere close to scoring and the pitch was so heavy that even kicking was arduous.
However, a few fresher legs for the home side livened things up after the break and the increasingly battered visitors coped well at first, but were eventually worn down.
One driving try and one remarkably accurate passing move put the home side in the driving seat and they emerged victorious.
There may have been many matches called off due to the weather but this game was never going to fail. The spirit of all participants ensured the camaraderie rolled over from pitch to the bar and the early kick-off meant the night would a long, joyous one.
Redditch first team’s scheduled Midlands Five West (South) game at Keresley was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, with the Kingfishers having already arrived in Coventry.