Jacky Green sent in a fantastic recap of the Eventers Rugby Challenge, which took place at the Newbury Rugby Club in England this past weekend. While the match pitting eventers against vets and farriers hadn’t been played since the late 90s, it drew a large crowd to watch some big names battle it out on the pitch. Be sure to watch the video to see the eventers, vets and farriers in action. Many thanks to Jacky for writing, and Go Rugby!
On a miserable December day, the resurrection of the Eventers Rugby Challenge took place at Newbury Rugby Club. Sadly, I am old enough to remember when it was last played, which I think was sometime in the early 90s, but today’s game had all the same hallmarks. The crowd had no idea of the rules, the boys had a slightly better idea of the rules but were short of match practice, and the vets and farriers still seemed to pull in rugby professionals! (Allegedly)
Upon arriving at Newbury Rugby Club, we were delighted to see we had been allocated No.1 pitch, as that had a covered grandstand. There was a surprisingly large turnout of watchers, perhaps due to eventers’ Twitter feeds being very full of the impending match. The players warm up was as diverse as follows: The vets and farriers (and ringers) were out practicing; the eventers were much more eclectic. Rumour has it Paul Tapner found that Burger King did it for him (hence his late arrival, see video!); Giovanni Ugulotti asked for directions and said he would be there by 4:30 p.m. (err, kick off 2:30 p.m.); and James Todd, son of Sir Mark, was detained at the Lloyd-Webber’s Christmas drinks party!
Once the rain had really started to fall, we had a start that seemed to be short of a referee. Mike Tindall had been penciled in, but was sadly called up to play himself. Proper rugby that is, not our version. Mark Corbett was held up teaching, so it was the legendary Graham Potts (AKA Potsy), Team Australian vet, veteran of International Rugby tours (also known as he’s buggered off to watch the All Blacks/ Wallabies on tour) who stepped in to referee the first half. As he came dressed in what he described as all-weather gear and I would describe as emergency calving gear (minus the ropes), he admitted he did not want to get wet. God only knows what the real rugby players thought as they trooped past our pitch and saw a referee in full flow with Veterinary Surgeon in neon print on his back.
Both teams made an inauspicious start as they exited the tunnel and skipped over the muddy puddle onto the pitch. Tom McEwen ended up looking as though he was a mud wrestler and his father, Bobby, on side for the vets, was perhaps the most enthusiastic participant.
The crowd watching was a diverse mix of wives, girlfriends and bored-on-a-Sunday groupies. I thought Georgina Tapner was displaying a huge amount of support for husband Paul until she divulged that if he got hurt, she was going to have to ride his very fresh event horses. To say that a large amount of the supporters had no knowledge of rugby rules (myself included) is an understatement. But we were reliably informed that the score ended up 12-0 to the vets and farriers. The rain fell, the team got muddier and the crowd became more vocal.
In short, it was great fun and very dirty in the best of ways. It was sponsored by Gatehouse Helmets, and all proceeds went to the inspirational Claire Lomas for her Spinal Foundation Cure. It sure beat Christmas shopping with the crowds!