Vaasa Drinking Team v Helsinki Rugby Club
Saturday, 9h30: meeting at the railway station. For the first time (and probably the last one) the two first ones are French, a couple of minutes early. Wonderful!
10h04: the train starts, everybody is here and Thierry M. will jump in the train in Tampere, being on weekend in the countryside. The coach is obviously concerned by the game. He fears that the team, after the great victory of last week will go there "too easy", "takki auki" and won't be concentrated on the game itself. This might lead to a defeat...
12h00: in the train, between Seinäjoki and Tampere, Heikki's sandwich (with kana and greasy curry sauce) looks much better than my dietetic rice cooked in milk. ... Well, anyway, I have to eat it ... as well as to drink, water, of course. It will be hot again today, maybe 25 degrees...
Finally, after some long hours reading newspapers, listening to music, talking around the bar table and trying to focus on the game, we are in Vaasa. We still have to walk to the pitch, under the burning sun. Thanks to the huge quantities of water swallowed during the trip, most of us are already sweating, and we are in an urgent need to pee!
The hippodrome is here, and a small poster besides the road indicates " Extreme sport: Rugby idag! "
VDT has red and black shirts, they look big. But inexperienced.
Surprise! We know the referee quite well, who's an ex-player of our club. Mr Rezé checks the equipment, the studs, the protections and some of us will gave to play without leg protection (Personally, I think it's fair, we're not football sissies...)
After a quick, very quick warm up, it's time for the kick off.
The sun is really high in the sky, warming up the air, and since there's no breeze at all, we gonna die!!
12 Jussi K. (Mikko V.)
13 Rabbe ( Thierry M.)
14 Jarno ( Nicolas )
15 Thierry D.
They kick to us, we get the ball, and we start to try playing. We do not manage at all. Forwards are doing a relatively good cleaning of the ball, but since it reaches the back line, this slippery ball is dropped, knocked or whatever. Too bad.
Fortunately, we manage to keep them in their half, and they came in our 22 only once, for a scrum in the 15 meters.
The game is very rough. Already two players from Vaasa are injured. Among them, Paul Dunn. They are tackling high, and they start to try to shout at us, at the ref, who shows great self confidence. Unfortunately Jussi Kölher got his ankle injured after a contact. He's been brought to the hospital. We'll learn later that it was broken. Good luck Jussi, we think about you! Didier gives a warming to the captains " If there is still one more injury, I'll stop the game, and it will be replayed " Christoph transmits the message to the forward " keep on the good work! Let's play fair, but hard rugby! "
Jussi opens the score with a penalty kick, on the right side at 25 meters. 3-0.
At the 30th minute, Didier whistles a penalty, 10 meters from the line. The penalty is played fast, all their players being offside. No whistle! Maul one meter from the line, which collapses. We win the ball on this scrum, release it fast, fast to the wing and that's a first try for HRC, converted by Jussi.
We had to wait 32 minutes before seeing the first one, but the second try will come soon! Jarno got the ball on the wing, runs, and is tackled high up to the head, just one meter away from the try line!! Thierry screams against the referee, who did not whistled anything!! Scrum for Vaasa! that's a shame, nobody understand but we keep on playing, intercept the ball and ... SCORE !! converted again, that's 17-0.
The second half starts by a high tackle by a Vaasa player. Red card! Without any hesitation, he's thrown out of the pitch. Then it is a succession of tries. The coach asked his team to play ALL the balls, to play with the wings. It works!!! As quick as it could be, Jarno scores the third try, on a superb pass by Thierry D. It's always a big, big pleasure to see Jarno happy after a try (this time, even if we were afraid about it, he did not kick the ball 50 meters away...) He is smiling, thanking Thierry, jumping in his run. And he scores again!! This is not happiness on his face, it's more than that, the whole team's happiness is concentrated on him.
Two more tries have been scored before Euca's injury. He's tackled, and his ankle is sore. The referee decides to stop the game " too much injuries "
Well, we can understand that now we're all tired and considering the level of the game (it's very rough, but fair though) and the technical level of Vaasa, we couldn't continue.
That's a pity, we could have scored more and Teemu could have had the opportunity to play in his home town...
The final result is 43 - 0 (17-0), and here are the scorers:
Andrew Clutterbuck, 2 tries
Jarno Paasonen, 2 tries
Richard Roche, 1 try
Euca Ncube, 1 try
Jussi Alaputto, 1 penalty kick, 5 conversions
We all gather in the sauna downtown where we'll spend the beginning of the evening. After a shower...
...nothing much happened, and then...
8h30: Everybody wakes up!! We try to get news from the pre-cited rookie, who did not show up yet, let's hope he'll catch the train! And we try to have some news also from Jussi, still in the hospital...
Paul Dunn is making coffee for everybody, despite his injured leg.
9h26: The rookie shows up, trying to change his train ticket to stay a bit more in Ostrobotnia
9h29: Knowing it's not possible to do so, he jumps on the train
9h30: which starts
9h31: and he enters the car where the rest of the team is, under applauds!
Between Vaasa and Seinäjoki, the Frenchies annoyed the whole car singing stupid songs.... Fortunately (for the people around) they fall asleep between Seinäjoki and Tampere ... but woke up then and started again their loud comments on the Finnish song broadcasted by the train radio.
14h00: We're back in Helsinki, waving a Helsinki Rugby Club virtual flag in sign of a non-virtual Victory!!!
What a way to start season 2002 ! 2 victories, 160 (almost) minutes of rugby, and no points scored against us. Well done Helsinki!
Keep up the good work !
Match report by Sebastien Garcia