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  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: News: The Most Epic Match Report of All Time

    Ed Clark isn’t a man known for his banta or his brevity, but even a broken watch is wrong twice a day, and this Tour report truly captures the touring adventure of the Vets traveling Dublin in support of Injured Players everywhere. Why not have a read and marvel in their heroics?

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-04-08 (Vets XV vs. Fullerians)

    Middlesex Vets League Semi 65-10

    Ten days after the Hammers Vets returned from they played in the semi final of the inaugural Middlesex Vets Merit Table on the hallowed turf of the Allianz Stadium, thanks to Ed Clark of Saracens.

    Having come a close second in the Southern League to Ealing Vets, HFRFC took to the field against Fullerians winners of the Middlesex Northern League.

    Fullerians were a good side, but Hammers quickly worked out how to neutralise the attacks of their impressive No 10 and back line and turned defence into attack, going over the line in the first 10 minutes.

    The scrum was awesome and the play at the back of the scrum was truly outstanding. Steve Harrington and Mowbray doing the hard graft, leaving Dilley to keep the opposition on their toes, side stepping and jinking over for a hat trick.

    The back line supported by 3 ex first team scrum halves (from different era’s) Clark, Lines and even old JFA showing he could still pass the long ball, kept James Weeks in a controlling position. With his expert marshaling, the backs dominated with the older vets and new blood in the form of Minis Dads, (Mungo, Row and Hagen) keeping the ball in hand and all going over.

    The vets showed what they could do when they played as a team and the final score against good opposition was 11 tries to 2!

    Tries to: Dilley 3, Merchant Row 2, Adi Furniss, Mr Tickle, Sykes Hagen, Hugo, Ed Clark and the old war horse Mowbray.

    The boys are now looking forward to the final against Ealing where they intend to avenge their earlier defeat. When the date is announced please come down and watch, because it is going to be one hell of a match and the vets are hungry for the title!!

    All we have to do now is #prayfordilley who badly sprained his ankle with one side step to many.

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-03-19 (Ladies XV vs. Romford & Gidea Park)

    We were all looking forward to playing old rivals Romford again after a very successful game away at the start of the season. A few tough losses got us fired up and we were in definite need of redemption. A sizable crowd of supporters gathered before kick off and the Hammers ladies were ready to go.

    It quickly became obvious that when we all worked together we could put enormous pressure on the opposition and make a lot of ground. After some initial difficulties at the scrum we managed to sort it out and made it extremely difficult for them, even winning some of their scrums. This lasted until they brought on some new players in the pack in the second half who put some weight behind their scrum.

    Our first try came after some lovely interplay near the try line and some beautiful offloads that allowed Ayala to score near the posts. Another try followed in the first half. We stayed organised and played through the phases. The work by the forwards gave us plenty of space out wide and great hands down the back line allowed Helen ‘John’ Egan to score in the corner, making her the most successful forward turned winger in Hammers history.

    Half time gave us a much needed breather but we knew what we had to do to keep scoring. Our strong runners had been breaking through their line all game and especially Leah, Annabel and Helene often made it past many defenders who would just hang on to them for dear life or alternatively bounce off. As a result Leah managed to burst over the line to give us try number 3. Despite a try saving tackle in the corner where we managed to divert the path of a Romford prop into touch (believe me, it was impressive) Romford nonetheless manged to score a try. We came back strong however, and Annabel scored 2 more tries for us towards the end of the game, giving the Hammers Ladies a well deserved bonus point victory. 5 tries and 2 conversions by Sophie left us with a 29-5 final score which was celebrated adequately at the Fest after.

    Back of the match went to Becki for her great direction and control during the game, as well as some cracking runs. Joint forward of the match went to Helene who had an outstanding game once again, showing us what aggression and desire really means, and to Annabel whose unstoppable force made us many meters and brought us two beautiful tries.

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: News: The Vets put in on the line in Dublin!

    On Friday the 17th March - St Patricks Day - 27 Hammers heroes made their way to Dublin to play in the annual English & Irish Legends Curtin Raiser game, all in the name of raising funds for injured players, inspired by our very own Stuart Mangan. Whilst Rugby was the real winner that day, this year’s efforts have tipped the Hammersmith & Fulham Vets into raising over 100,000 pounds for injured Rugby players everywhere, whilst also drinking considerable pints!

    Hammers Vets, we salute you and the Rugby you play - but why take our word for it? Read the attached match report!

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-03-17 (Vets XV vs. Railway Union RFC)

    Friday 17th March 2017 – St Patricks Day; 5.30AM and the party had already started.

    In Luton Airport.

    As the 27 carefully selected (as in could get pink slips) Hammers Vets escaped the clutches of Airport Security and made their way through to departures they were met by a wall of early morning revellers. Rugby Fans, Stag & Hen parties and even the odd game of bridge (some of the boys were very excited at this point) – Tour had well and truly begun and the younger, less committed Hammer may have been tempted to crack into the black stuff before beginning the arduous One Hour flight to the Emerald Isle. But not these Hammers. For these chaps of the slightly older generation had a job to do in Dublin’s fair city, in defending their title of Curtain Raiser Champions and to raise money for the RFU Injured Players Foundation and other Legends charities, in memory of our fallen friend and team mate Stuart Mangan. So, the pre-match prep began; Skinny Latte’s and Kale Smoothies were downed, protein bars consumed, copies of the Telegraph were read and the warriors headed for the gate……. now Tour had well and truly begun…. ish.

    Ryanair Flight 750 was mercifully short and soon the Hammers had their boots on the ground in Ireland’s capital. After some interesting conversations at immigration and a slight misunderstanding around a senior tourist’s luggage by a junior tourist, we were into arrivals to be greeted William, our bubbly and blotchy coach driver, who had the wheels ready to roll. It was at this stage that a certain Silver Headed rugby coach tasked with the unenviable task of taking a lesser touring side than the Hammers to New Zealand this summer, emerged from immigration behind us.

    He looked nervous, clearly suffering the effects of what must be a difficult preparation for his impending great adventure so there was only one thing to do…… invite him for a photo with the tourists…. to cheer him up of course. But who would be tasked with asking WG for his time? There was only one man for the job…… no (WO)man has ever been known to say no to the suave & sophisticated charm of the irrepressible Sly-vester and so he stepped up.

    Mr Gatland obliged and assumed position. Sly asked Mrs Gatland if she would mind snapping the pic; naturally she agreed. When asked if this sort of thing happened to WG often… he replied with a straight faced ‘yes’ and it was apparent that our bid to get his weekend off to a cheery start had failed. Still, we knew, as hordes of people approached with their cameras in hand, that our friend Warren would always remember us… as the group that delayed his departure from Dublin Airport by a further 25 minutes.

    We emerged into the beautiful Dublin drizzle and the author glanced to his left to see Dublin local Barry O’Sullivan take in a long deep breath and poetically state ‘It’s always this cold and wet, what did you expect?’. I had to admit that this was a fair point and boarded William’s chariot on fire.

    It should be said that the Apartcity Aparthotel St Augustine Street was an inspired choice from our Tour Leader; the one apartment we had access to at 9.30AM had all the amenities needed to house 27 lads. As we crammed into the living room and Son of Chuck Dilley put the kettle on. Out came the ironing board and things really started to get wild. Spirits were dampened temporarily when Dillon ’I know Dublin’ Rudd, explained that our digs were miles away from anywhere of any excitement and that we should expect a lot of walking. However, spirits were then lifted heavily upon the arrival of The Cube, recently landed from Houston, Texas. Being from Irish Extraction and had actually having been to Dublin previously, he politely explained that Dillon was in fact mistaken, and so we set of on a monumental 7-minute walk to Oscars for an Irish breakfast, and (cue sharp intake of breath) some Guinness was drunk…… purely to numb the inevitable pain of what was to come.

    A quick return to the (only) apartment and a swift change into Number 1s and we were off to Old Belvedere RFC to take on the Railway Union Legends side in what was clearly the biggest game taking place in Dublin over St Patricks weekend.

    On arrival at Old Belvedere we were treated like Kings, and as we watched Trinity Old Boys take on Oxford University Old Boys in the Legends Curtain Raiser, Curtain Raiser, we were invited to sit down for a lunch laid on specially for us. As the Hammers sat with their plates of Spicy Chicken Curry and Coleslaw in front of them; reality began to set in… we were now only an hour from kicking off the game and we had a job to do; and that this might not be on the approved pre-match meal list of our team nutritionist, Mr P. Hunter. Still who were we to refuse a (20 EURO) plate of curry and so cracked on!

    As we started the painfully slow process of digesting our carb-light and cream heavy lunch, the clock ticked on and shortly it was time to don the Hammers colours and head out for the warm up. It was cold, it was wet…. I looked at Barry…. he was unsurprised. It was now that we got the first look at our opponents for the afternoon, Railway Union RFC Legends. They looked big, skilful, and fast and there seemed to be a lot of them. There were also a number of players from other Irish clubs, that they had drafted in! But they didn’t have Tony Richards… and so our confidence continued to brim. The warm up came and went without any major hitch; but also without any major promise and soon it was for final words to be said and the favourite part of many a Hammers Vet’s day… the Port Toast, and a chance of course to remember why we were there.

    In 2008 Stuart Mangan, our friend and team mate, suffered a severe spinal injury whilst we were playing for Hammersmith and Fulham RFC in London. As a result, Stuart was paralysed from the neck down but despite his injury, was determined to continue to live his life to the full and his ambition and positivity was an inspiration to anyone that knew or met him. Unfortunately, as a result of his injuries, Stuart was cruelly taken from us on 7th August 2009 at the age of 26. We were in Dublin on St Patricks Day to play in his memory, raise some money for some wonderful rugby charities and celebrate the incredible spirit that the Rugby Family brings to all of us involved.

    Both teams toasted Stuart (some players more than others for medicinal purposes) and Hammers were then joined by Stuarts father, Brian. He thanked us for being there and the support that the Hammers have always offered, and asked us to go out and enjoy ourselves. Added to this were the thoughts of a couple of players who had played with Stuart and we all agreed that we would play for him and to put pride into the Hammers jersey. We were now ready for our esteemed Club President, Mr J. Leonard, to Kick off the game ceremoniously. He was late…. So, someone else did. Playing with the wind in the first half, Hammers felt confident that we could out the ball in the right areas (no kicking on tour), and play to our strengths (what we had figured out what they were).

    However, it was to take the boys a few minutes to shake the 6.30 flight, large Irish breakfast, 2 pints of Guinness, coleslaw curry, and double port out of the system. Railway had clearly come to play and were not in the mood for a rag tag bunch from posh London to spoil the St Patricks day party. Despite the conditions, they ran everything clearly wanting to sty well within the spirit of the game. Hammers, clearly wanting to stay alive, decided that the best course of action would be to play territory, and the best way to do that was to concede an early try and put us back down in their 22 from the restart…. A solid game plan if ever I’d heard one. So, as the lads waved Railway through (amongst some strong interplay form the Railway back division and some hard and straight running from their tidy pack!) and we promptly returned to halfway to restart the game confident that the 7-point deficit was nothing more than a wakeup call.

    Jason was still late… someone else kicked off. Hammers began to exert a bit of pressure in and around the opposition 22. Strong carrying from the base from Dan DeWolf and 2nd rows Rudd and Jones started to punch some holes and when the ball shifted wide on occasion it even got past the 12 channel, where Dilley was itching to cut loose in a rare outing in the back line. Yet the contact area remained an issue and once they turned the ball over the Railway Children were out to play once more. Some strong tracking work in defence by Barton Mini, off the bench at 13 early doors, and the evergreen and ever fearless Matt Webb at full back, prevented a clear breakaway try. However, the Opposition forwards were in no mood to miss out and after a couple of pick and drives and some short lines off the ruck, Railway struck again. Conversion wide, but 12-0 down, it was time for some stern words. These came in the form of Mark Blyghton, a late addition to the touring party, who reminded us why we were there, and it certainly wasn’t to look as silly as we’d made ourselves look so far. The team looked around and decided that as Mark was still a week in week out starter for the Hammers 1s, he must know what he was talking about, so we would heed his words.

    And soon we were making a fist of it. On came the Cube and the recently arrived Ian Smith and the scrum began to walk forwards. Scrum Half Ali Lines started to get a bit of go forward behind which he could dictate and the ball went into the right areas from Tiny at 10. Then came the chance to strike. Consistent pressure in the opponents 22 brought penalties and the lads had their tails up. A quick tap from lines and a switch of direction from tiny and the ball made its way to Son of Chuck. With the anger in his face and the line only 8 meters away there was only one result… a fend, step, and a flop later and he was over for the hammers first points. An incredibly tricky conversion just slipped by to the left but Hammers were back in the game and with only the 7-point deficit that they so love. The rest of the half was a bit of nip and tuck between the two sides…. Hammers launching downfield and repelling Railways fluid attacks. However, it was during this period that a memorable moment occurred following a hammers turnover during one of the aforementioned waves of attack. Strong work at the breakdown allowed Lines to ship the ball quickly to Tiny, who, sensing it was on let it go quickly to the outside channel. Tiny’s eyes however lit up in shock as he realised that the recipient of his pass was one Mr. T. Richards. It was mentioned that Tiny may have even of uttered a curse as he saw where the pass was going; how wrong he was. For Mr. Richards comfortably gathered the ball (no mean feat considering his pre-match Guinness consumption) and looked up to survey his options. He decided there was one thing for it… go straight through them. He straightened, and hit the accelerator as the Railway boys converged into his path. With a shift of weight, and a Flatley-esque step, he left them for dead and continued his trek down field. Another conductor came towards him… out came the piston hand off and down he went.

    After 30 yards Tony decided to give one of the young bucks a chance and as he took out yet another hapless defender, a sweet offload to Dilley gave him a well-earned rest. Dilley set off and with one man to beat did something we never thought we would see him do… he listened. It was the voice of Tiny screaming for a nudge into the in-goal area. Ryan obliged but with a little too much weight on the kick that reminded us all he was a back row. The chance was gone but reminded us of the talent of the young Mr Richards that many of us had heard of, but seldom seen! Stoic defence on their own line allowed Hammers to see out the end of the half and head to the sheds 12-5 down.

    Good news greeted the lads… Jason had arrived… and he had brought Tom May for some words of encouragement. Unfortunately, Mr May seemed a little more concerned with the mud on his plimsoles than the game and so left most talking to the legend. Jason spoke with passion about the game, telling us to have fun and these are the days we would remember and what rugby was all about. He also reminded us that after 40 more minutes we’d be able to kick back and enjoy the black stuff. This is the sort of encouragement the lads needed and felt ready to crack on. Jason also stated he had a tenner on a ‘hattrick for Tiny’ in the second half. Tiny told him his money was safe.

    As Jason didn’t want to get his shoes dirty kicking off, the game restarted with Hammers now playing into the hefty breeze. With the restart not going 10 meters, Hammers were immediately under the cosh with Railway breaking straight down the left-hand flank marauding into Hammers territory. It would seem that the boys had gone back to sleep again at half time and unfortunately a couple of phases later, a try was conceded after some strong work from the oppo forwards and their chunky centre squeezing over for their 3rd.

    This sprung Hammers into life and with Tiny’s little legs putting everything they had into the restart, they were soon camped in Railway territory, where they were to stay for the majority of the half. The management rang the changes on the side-line and we were to go more direct. Carl Jones was on in the Centre with Dilley moving to his more familiar Openside spot. Dublin native Colm Quirk was in on the wing to add some flair. The scrum was dominant and despite the wind the line out was operating well…. It was time to turn the screw. The next 20 odd minutes we to see some surprisingly smart rugby from the SW London Lads. Despite Railway’s speed off the line that, if they weren’t offside, would have put Ireland’s the next day to shame, Hammers moved the ball when needed and started to open up some holes. Matt Webb and his back 3 carried well back into the Railway lads as they started to tyre. Ciaran Walsh, the Galway Ranger making his debut in the back row, upped the intensity. No doubt his on tour girlfriend was incredibly proud of his contribution.

    Eventually, the pressure told. Inspired but the musical ensemble carried across the Dublin breeze as the RDS warmed up the anthem singers for the evenings fixture, Hammers took a line out (thankfully called without any lude references from Hooker Lowry) and headed for the line. Railway defended the Bugatti drive well, but the ball was recycled with a strong carry from Walsh round the corner. Once again, the boys were in situ to clear the ruck and s the ball was shipped to Tiny he once again looked inside to his trusty Dilley. Fortunately, the rope-a-dope had worked and as the offside Railway back line once again shot up towards the No.7, Tiny showed and go’d and stumbled his way across the line untouched just to the left of the uprights. As the diminutive No.10 slid over, the RDS decided now was the time to let loose the unmistakeable tones of God Save the Queen. This did not go down brilliantly on St Patrick’s Day with the Railway lads and as the rest of his side returned to halfway Tiny was left facing the angry Irishmen as he lined up for the extras. It was later in the day that Tiny would cite the difficult political situation as the reason that the snap drop kick attempt sailed considerably wide despite being taken in front of the posts! Hammers back to 17-10 down… the 7-point gap they love so much.

    And that was how the Scoreboard would stay. Hammers and Railway both spurning opportunities late on but continuing, despite the worsening conditions, to play the game with ball in hand and in the right spirit. On the final whistle, Railway ran out winners by 17-10, taking the title of Curtain Raiser Champions for 2017.

    Following the game, the Guinness flowed and Hammers were left to reflect on what may have been. Also, the news that the Referee was none other than Stuart’s cousin, raised questions with some of the lads, as to whether the choice words he was given at time throughout the game was quite called for. We decided that, as we’d lost, they clearly were. Back in the clubhouse Man of the Match and Tin Man honours were awarded, and the Hammers boys managed to restore some pride with the inevitable drink off of the Black Stuff. The sight of the Oxford Old Boys taking on a funnel with a prosthetic Donald Trump Mask was also something to behold.

    Following a quick ‘welcome to the family’ for the first-time Vets Tourists, Hammers headed for the RDS for the Ireland Vs England Legends fixture.

    Credit has to go to the organisers for putting on such a phenomenal evening, with fans of both sides turning out in their droves (to the tune of 13,000) in memory of both Stuart, and off course Anthony Foley, who the rugby community lost earlier in the season. The game also presented the opportunity to one carefully selected Hammer to represent the club, and his country, and pull on the England Legends Shirt during the second half. The selection committee convened and decided there could only be one Hammer that could step up to the mark. A man who had represented the club for years at the highest level. A man that had been out in an unbelievable shift already earlier in the day. And a man that had been awake for almost 36 hours. And so, when the moment came Andrew Barrett stood up on the touchline with his personal photographer, Lord Christopher of Chuntington in his finest country attire, snapping away.

    Like a coiled spring he was ready…… and promptly forward rolled his way onto the pitch to the embarrassed groans of his brothers in arms, in the stands. He assumed his position on the openside of the scrum and to his credit, proceeded to hit the next 6 rucks. In the age of modern technology, the tourists lamented the fact that the legends were not wearing GPS units as the adrenaline wore off, the telemetry of our young energetic Barrett would have undoubtedly have made interesting viewing! For the ensuing 10 minutes the effort Andy put in was quite frankly phenomenal and came off to a standing ovation from his fellow Hammers who were in no doubt he has the right man to carry the flag.

    The final scoreline didnt flatter our 55 year old flanker . England were winning when he took to the field, but had lost by two tries when he left. We are sure this had nothing to do with AB’s ageing prowess, but more to the fact that the Irish Legends had obviously bribed the touch judges and had 17 on the field at the end! The English Legends wee the second English team to lose this weekend.

    On completion of the game Hammers took up their positions on Tables 51, 52 & 53 of the Anthony Foley Gala Dinner…. Thankfully at the back of the room and close to the washrooms. It was a fantastic event and one which the tourist took full advantage of, especially when welcoming the returned AB from his recent exploits with the rest of his new Legend best mates. It also gave the boys a great chance to catch up with the Mangan Family and to share a beer in memory of Stuart. Searson’s provided the after party as St Paddy’s Day continued into the next day and the hardiest of the Hammers continued to the Black Door…. which judging by some of the lads (mainly Tiny & BOS the weatherman) could be mistaken for a metaphor for the state they were in.

    Saturday came. 6 Nations Day. Grand Slam Day. World Record Day. England’s Day.

    Hammers arose from their slumber, some tardier than others, and immediately headed out. The Exchequer Bar was the destination and by 12PM the majority of the party had taken up their positions. Bloody Marys were ordered and shortly the lads were back on the horse. Scotland were showing their capabilities against the Italians and the day was in full swing. There was of course an inevitable split within the group due to occur with those with tickets to the Grand Slam game due to head off to the AVIVA later in the afternoon.

    One tourist decided that this was a totally unacceptable way of touring and felt that he would take it upon himself to look after the members of the party who had not got their hands on the mythical tickets. He removed himself from the group and hit the ticket sites. Soon he returned with a rather puzzled, and disappointed look upon his face. He had indeed found some tickets, and they were indeed for the 6 nations. He had struck gold and quicker than you could say ‘double check the details’ he pulled the trigger. He returned to the group ready to announce to all the good news that he had tickets for the boys…… unfortunately, they were to Murrayfield, they had missed 56 minutes of the match, and he wasn’t entirely convinced they’d get to Edinburgh in time. Feeling that this wasn’t the time to stick the knife in… the boys huddled round to comfort the wounded soldier, grabbed him a Guinness, and gave it at least 10 minutes before they utterly ruined him. Still, his generosity has been noted and will undoubtedly be paid back in spades by the boys in May when they actually do go to Edinburgh.

    The split occurred and some of the boys were at the AVIVA to witness a Grand Slam winning, World Record breaking result for the English…. Or not. Yet another Irish side had prevailed!

    Still, good news was to follow with an email from Lord Chuntington to request us to convene at 8pm at Flannery’s bar. The Hammers were re-united, mostly on time on the back terrace. Tour court was called to order with the Honourable Judge Dredd and Lord Chief Justice The Cube Presiding.

    Nothing of any note took place over the next hour.With the tour formalities over, the Tourists partied the night away throughout Dublin. Taxis were laid on at 6.30AM to return to Dublin Airport and I am pleased to report a full roster of persons landing at Luton airport at 9.30AM without incident.

    It was a weekend to go down in history for the Hammers. Despite losing the fixture, all those involved in the Curtain Raiser Fixture raised more than £15,000 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation and the IRFU Charitable trust, which takes us to over £100,000 since Chuntie and the Mangan Brothers came up with the idea of the Curtain Raiser, 4 years ago! It was extra special for those of us fortunate to play with Stuart a few years ago, and a wonderful way for all Hammers to remember and honour one of our own.

    The weekend would never have taken place without some unbelievable support. HFRFC VETS would like to thank the following for their phenomenal generosity and support: Cheevers Howard – Phil Cheevers, Ben Howard, and Derek Poole for their continued sponsorship and support of both the team and the Curtain Raiser fixture as well as their contribution towards Tables 51, 52, & 53!!

    Harvey Thorneycroft, Shane Byrne, and the England & Ireland Legends Organising Committee for their continued support of the charities and inviting HFRFC to continually be involved in an incredible event, as well as their kind invitation to the Gala Dinner at the RDS. We look forward to (hopefully!) being involved next year and for future years to come!

    Railway Union RFC Legends for agreeing to play us and Old Belvedere RFC for hosting us for a superb curry(?!) and St Paddy’s Day afternoon. Without their support the fixture would never have been played.

    All those that sponsored all the members of the fundraising team from Hammers, Railway, & OURFC Old Boys. Without your support, there is no way that we would be able to keep such an event going and continue to support the charities in memory of Stuart Mangan.

    Finally, huge thanks to Phil Cheevers and Chris Hunt who undertook most of the tour organisation. It was a great weekend for the Vets and one that took a huge amount of planning and booking and we are all very grateful for the work and time you put in!

    Bring on Old Ham’s Day!!!!

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-03-05 (u12s vs. Kilburn Cosmos)

    Yesterday a squad of 26 Hammers U12s braved the lovely British weather and travelled North to Kilburn Cosmos to play the hosts and Finchley.

    The objective was to extend our run of successive victories (11) for the White Middlesex squad and confirm the improvement of the Blue squad ahead of Middlesex finals on 19th March.

    As we arrived at Gladstone Park, we were welcomed by a strong gale, constant rain and a low, grey, heavy sky. A green but swampy pitch awaited and Finchley were already warming up,covered in mud.

    With a bit of help by our Royal Engineer squad (i.e Gavin and Knut) we erected our gazebo while a sleepy, sluggish , incomplete Hammers squad was warming up in their anoraks. The night had taken its toll with several u12s missing in action . Attention and momentum was hard to get.

    As our red gazebo stood proudly by the pitch, our host Coach finally arrived, only to mention they had been waiting for us on the other side of the Park for last 15 minutes…So we collected our water bottles, bags and mouth guards and had to leave our tent behind!

    After a quick Forward and backs warm up session we split the squad in 2. We had to adapt as we missed 12 players and wanted to integrate our recent joiners , always a tricky balance. It was impossible to re-create White and Blue squads so we went for 2 balanced teams to face our first games vs Finchley and Kilburn.

    Team 1 faced a very solid and big (what do they eat in North London that we don’t?) Finchley team. First half was a very evenly contested affair where our usual rucking superiority was challenged. Clearly we would not dominate in the power contest. The first half ended without any scores and Hammers were frustrated and nervous at the break. Some coaching was well needed and having identified Finchley were a bit slow we decided to open the game and go for more flowing, attacking rugby. We quickly scored at the opening of the second half by a great move on the left side with ball changing hands quickly between Abel, Constantin and James. Finchley then managed to score on an intercepted pass to even the score. We then had numerous opportunities to throw the ball around and came close to score a few times but our lack of discipline in the timing of passes meant we had to wait until Julian picked up the ball from a fantastic ruck to go and score our second try of the day. We quickly added another try through Abel after a massive move involving everyone from the half way line. This freed the boys and they quickly took the upper hand on the game to add 2 more tries against 1 from Finchley to win the game 5-2.

    Team 2 was taking on Kilburn, a team we know can be ferocious at the breakdown with a few very competitive players. As often the case, our Hammers started the game a bit slow on intentions and spirit. We were quickly overpowered by the hosts who had been very well drilled by their coaches, who clearly had no intention in playing some champagne running rugby. Some old school forwards tactics were deployed such as the turtle ( throw the ball to a big guy who links with 2 other big guys and hit the defence) which flattened a few of our players : well done Patrick in stopping one of those by yourself! Score at half time was 3-nil to the hosts and our coaches were looking into the usual dispirited faces. A quick “encouraging” words were given during the break and the second half was a very different affair with some proper rucking and tackling. We did see the host team struggling for solutions and there was a bit of “unconventional” tackling on both sides, with some cheers from a very “fair” Kilburn public… Ultimately, penalties were accumulating against the Kilburn and Hammers scored 4 tries in the half to 3 from Kilburn making the final score 6-4.

    We reshuffled the teams slightly to play our next games to make it a bit more balanced after losing a few players to mild injuries.

    Team 2 went on to play Finchley. Again they ended behind the score at half time (1-0 to Finchley) but found their second wind to score 2 tries from William to win 1-2. It was a much more even game but we came back and prevailed.

    Team 1 faced Kilburn and had to find their true grit. As the game went on, frustration at the breakdown was obvious. A few lose hands were flying and “gentleman” rugby was somehow forgotten. They scored one, we scored one in response out of sheer rage. And then we went back to Verdun 1916…This was a decisive moment of the year in my view. Our players are abruptly leaving childhood for teenagehood. The game is getting tougher, kids are getting bigger and sometimes it’s not skill only that prevails. It took GRIT and abnegation and a cool head to survive this and win it. And we did. We scored, despite the tears, despite the knocks and despite the questionable tactics. Just like when we beat Twickenham a few weeks back in the dying minutes, we never gave up.

    So did we achieve our objective of the week end?

    Well, strictly speaking we did not have our usual White and Blue teams from Middlesex..

    But we won 3 out of 4 games and we did much better than that.

    We found our true Hammer fighting spirit across the whole squad. We have determination, we have this inner strength as a group. We have developed a strong competitive attitude especially when we are backed against it. True, part of the squad needs to wake up when we start (we would have won 4 out of 4 by playing from the whistle ).

    We have also integrated new comers and they are already gelling very well: Pablo, Julian and Jamaal all played well.

    Special mentions this week go to:

    Matteo who has made amazing progress this year and was ferocious in Team 1 William K for scoring 2 tries after joining Team 2 against Finchley Raphael M for tackling a few Kilburn “monsters” 3 times his size Patrick for stopping a Kilburn ” turtle” on his own Julian for a try saving tackle on a Finchley player Olie for playing 9 so well in the Kilburn storm. Pablo for rucking like a Tasmanian devil in his second only Hammers session. Enhorabuena!

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-03-04 (1st XV vs. Enfield Ignatians)

    Another away game on the opposite side of the capital meant another bus trip for the Hammers first XV. The game was posed as a ‘must-win’ fixture for the Hammers with a string of unfavourable results putting the pressure on the bottom half of the table.

    A pitch that in previous years has only been brown, surprised the boys on arrival with fresh green grass, freshly painted lines and decent weather conditions – although Storm Doris appeared to be lingering in North West London, with a strong down-pitch wind playing into the Hammers favour for the first half.

    Following a win in the home leg, the confidence could be felt in the warm up, and was carried to within the four walls of the dressing room, with the usual suspects of Smarty and Blyghts fuelling the fire.

    Enfield came out blazing for the first 5, putting their strong runners to use and stuck the Hammers on the back foot around the 22 line. Pressure was soon relieved with some clean turnover ball and good first hit defence, followed by fantastic territorial kicking from half backs Jon Mac and Keith, using the wind to their advantage and putting the hammers into the strike zone.

    Following a good string of phases, Hammers ran hard at Enfield and broke the gain line again and again. A quick delivery out to Keith at 10 gave a chance to show some beautiful footwork against a scrambling back foot defence. Beating at least 2 defenders in a small space, Keith’s arm was stretched out to ground the ball, followed by the whistle confirming the first 5 points of the game.

    The half continued in this manner with the away team putting more and more phases together, and with a kick right into the corner, Hammers were given their first opportunity to dominate the line out. Collected beautifully and driven forward with Jon at 9 even getting his head stuck in, the maul collapsed over the white wash. With the referee’s arm in the air, a try for the ever-hungry hooker Horse was confirmed, putting the hammers 10 points ahead. In extremely challenging kicking conditions, Jon slotted the conversion with his eyes closed, straight through the middle of the posts. 0-12 Hammers.

    A dominant scrum from the Hammers front 8 continued to put pressure on Enfield, providing clean ball for the backs to play their characteristic running rugby. Hard running lines from Tass and CCS left the Enfield back line depleted, giving Tony the space to cut open the midfield. Some great support lines from Cilian off the wing proved too much for the defence and put the Hammers over for their 3rd score of the half. Again, the conversion effortlessly put through the sticks.

    The half-time huddle was confident and the Hammers were keen to prove that the cross-field gale was not just a ’15 point wind’. The Hammers were now playing against the conditions for the next 40.

    The second half proved more difficult with some tough decisions at the break down, tied in with the ’15 point wind’, and Hammers soon conceded for the first time in the game. Defence was resilient, but Enfield began to find the gaps and bring themselves back into the game. 3 tries for the home team in addition to some kicked points for the Hammers, put Enfield within 6 points of the leaders who had to dig deep.

    Some huge collisions from both sides kept Physio Tim busy, with Smarty, Horse, and Keith all putting their bodies on the line phase after phase. After a scuffle between both teams fuelled by foul play resulted in Enfield being reduced to 14-men, the Hammers took control of the ball and piled the pressure back into the Enfield half.

    Excellent defensive organisation around the fringes of the ruck in the final 10 minutes, and with Tass calling the defensive press – Hammers continued to force errors from an Enfield team who were throwing the kitchen sink at the game.

    Good ball retention at the line out from Josh and Roche ran down the clock, and the Hammers had sealed the victory – 19-25. A good day at the office, and a fairly dominant performance despite the close score line.

    Some sore bodies at the end of the 80, soon to be forgotten about on the bus trip back to South West London. Next week we return to Hurlingham for a huge game against Old Habs, but a confident performance will no doubt bring some momentum into the fixture.

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-02-18 (2nd XV vs. Kew Occasionals)

    Match Report – Hammers 2nd XV (away) VS Kew Occasionals – 18th February

    It was an absolutely beautiful day for a game of rugby at the Richmond ground. Kew turned up last minute before kick-off and then we were underway…

    Hammers to receive form the kick-off. Ball gets taken into contact and quickly cleared by scrum-half Gary Leith to give Hammers some breathing room and start the march up the pitch.

    Kew’s line-out is on form and Hammers lose possession in midfield. Kew spread the ball wide and in what will become a familiar routine over the next 80 minutes, carve a hole in our defensive line to run in a 50 metre try under the posts. The kicker slots the kick with ease to put Kew up 7-0 after 2 minutes.

    The Hammers don’t let the early score get to them and we rally and fight on for the ball in midfield. We start playing patterns but the comms just aren’t there and we quickly fall into a routine of one-out runners being isolated and a more-aggressive Kew side take advantage at the breakdown and disrupting our rucks.

    First scrum to hammers after a Kew knock-on, Kew put on a savage burst and drive us off our own ball, the Kew 8 picks-and-gos. He’s taken down hard by flanker George Chapman and Hammers get a penalty when the 8 doesn’t release. Gee lines up the kick but just doesn’t find touch. Kew have an excellent runner on the wing who runs it 30 metres back to their 10-meter line having broken three tackles. Our lads aren’t going for the chop tackle and Kew are shoving past us, taking two or three blokes to get them to ground.

    Hammers lose our first lineout, Kew are quick on the uptake and spread ball again to their strong running backs who swiftly capitalise against the disjointed Hammers defensive line to score again. By the time they reach the try-line they have a 3-man overlap. Hammers looking into the ruck, not up sat their men. The Kew kicker slots another easy ball. 14-0 Kew

    Hammers keep their heads up and we start to keep the ball a bit more. Hammers awarded another penalty which gets us deep into their 22. We use the momentum and the backs pull off a great move that leaves the Kew backls reeling. Some excellent crisp passing leads to a Hammers score in the corner!

    Score is now 14-5, Siu lines up a very hard kick right on the side-line…… just misses…. Still 14-5

    The next 10 minutes sees a lot of the fight in our own 22. Defence remains strong but the strong Kew runners weather us down and they burst through to score again. The kicker lines up another slottable kick and increases the deficit to 21-5

    Hammers kick-off, a Kew winger takes the ball from the kick and darts all the way back to the try line having broken through our entire team! He’s in the clear and just about to score when he suddenly drops the ball!!! In perhaps the luckiest knock-on in Hammers history, we get the 22 drop-out.

    Kew’s two excellent runners continue to make mince-meat of our defence and it isn’t pretty. Comms aren’t there in defence or attack and we still don’t go in for the chop-tackles. In Hammers defence we were playing with a number of blokes new to the team but we needed to focus on staying in our pods and play Hammers patterns

    Kew shred through again and score 5 more. Conversion missed but score has now increased to 26-5

    Hammers kick-off but it looks like the will is broken. Kew score a try almost immediately after their last. The kick sails through the uprights to make it 33-5

    Hammers kick-off again and try to put together patterns but Kew remain more aggressive at the rucks and take possession. The same story occurs, the ball gets spread to their strong runners in the back-line, they use the overlap and seize every chance they can get. Another try! Kew push ahead to 40-5

    Lots of midfield play and Hammers start defending better. There are some crunching tackles from Si Doherty and Will North. Chris Ralph also showing some excellent lines when running moves. We then win one of their lineouts in their 22… we use the size of our pack to drive it 10 metres and we start looking far stronger. This could be the rallying effort that brings it all back from the brink

    Hammers get all way to their 5 metre line and the effort is clearly showing…

    Disaster strikes as Kew intercept a pass on their own 5 metre line to score a 95 metre try… Kew kicker now starts drop-kicking the conversions, misses wide right. 45-5

    Half time

    Hammers keeping calm heads moving into the second half. We know what we need to do and we start playing more as a unit. the stalwart Hammers defence re-appears and we start making life a bit more difficult for Kew.

    Chris Ralph intercepts a Kew pass and we really start piling on the pressure. Ryan Thomson, Tim Williams and Tim Murray all put their hands up for some big runs and crash into the strong Kew defence. Hammers continue with some good running in the back line. Si Doherty continues to make some huge hits and is one of the few players chopping their runners down. Alex Gee helps with the effort and cuts down their bigger runners.

    Hammers spending vast amounts of time in their 22 and their half but we just can’t capitalise and get to the line”

    Hammers starting to play patterns and Si Doherty and Gary lead with assertion

    A huge blow comes when Kew score again and build their lead. Drop-kick conversion is good. 47-5

    The last try has left Hammers reeling and Kew pile on the pressure with another try almost immediately. 54-5

    Heads are down and their runners are finding gaps in our defence everywhere. Again Hammers try to steel themselves and head back into the fray to fight back and play continues in their half more than ours but small mistakes and Kew’s ferocious rucking give possession to Kew.

    The Kew full-back makes 80 yards but drops the ball at try line!!! Two try line drops!! He was all the way and not marked and he drops it!

    Another converted try puts Kew to 61-5

    Kew dominating the second half and run in a quick successor. Drop-goal hardly even attempted. 66-5

    Hammers don’t give up! we drive forward and score a converted try with Gee cutting a smashing inside line TRY!! 61-12

    Hammers come back but only a few minutes to go….. deficit just too large. It’s about pride now. only minutes to go…

    All the blokes have been running for the full 80 with no subs. Everyone is running on empty but there’s still some fir left! North joins the back line to give a quick overlay, two offloads and a burst of speed sees Will North score under the posts! Conversion is good and the final whistle screeches the end of a very tough outing.

    Final score 66-19

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-02-11 (1st XV vs. Tabard)

    This past weekend saw a return to league rugby with the Hammers travelling up to face Tabard. Historically the opposition have been strong in the forwards and with the snow falling it certainly didn’t look like the conditions would suit the running rugby style familiar to the Hammers.

    Despite the conditions the Hammers pack certainly showed their intentions early on, some strong carries by Smart, Murray, Josh “Cheese” McLean and Darrell meant Hammers manged to get good front foot ball. However it was Tabard who were first to strike with a penalty. 3-0 to the home side.

    A battle for territory became the focus for a good portion of the half, the Tabard 10 using his boot to good affect to keep the Hammers pinned in their own half. Bryant and Bane had other ideas though and delivered some sublime counter attacks that put the pressure right back on Tabard. However the Hammers were often too guilty of forcing the last pass resulting in turnovers.

    Hammers still continued to press and strong midfield running by the bash brothers ( CCS and Tass) and some half breaks by Doherty allowed the Hammers to camp themselves inside the Tabard half. A good passage of play eventually resulting in a penalty, however Gallo unable to convert the kick meant the Hammers came away with nothing. The resulting 22 drop out saw the tables turned with Tabard using their big runners to put Hammers into defence mode. Hammers did their best to hold out an onslaught on their own line but after a strong stand off, Tabard managed to squeeze over and score. At the half the home side led 10-0.

    Hammers looked to play more rugby in the 2nd period, the front row quartet of Jacob, Horse, Blyghts and the Nugget showing that technique beats size and managed to get the upper hand at scrum time. Great work by Lloyd at line out time resulted in some good steals and provided Hammers with more ball. It was the decision making and execution that was letting the opportunities slip and numerous trips to Tabard red zone resulted in no points. The home side eventually doing enough defensively to get out of their half and turn the tables once again. A penalty and then a brilliantly executed cross kick led to a second Tabard try and a commanding 20-0 lead.

    In the last 10 the game certainly opened with the Hammers needing to produce something special. Some great breaks by CCS, Oli Chambers and Chance resulting in a try scored by Lloyd after some neat interplay down the left hand touchline. Again the conversion missed by Gallo and time running out meant a comfortable 20-5 victory to the hosts.

    A frustrating day for the Hammers, with uncharacteristic handling errors and poor decision making, who now have it all to play for in the coming weeks.The boys however are eager to get things back on track again this weekend at home.

  • Fulham and Hammersmith Rugby: Match report: 2017-02-11 (2nd XV vs. London Cornish II)

    Hammersmith & Fulham FRC 2nd XV vs. London Cornish 2nd XV

    A last minute change of venue saw the Hammers kicking off at Fortress Hurlingham. The Hammers came out ready for what we knew would be a physical 80 minutes against a team that we beat in back to back outings at the start of the season. As the starting whistle blared the Hammers gunned from the line and put together a strong first 5 minutes with aggressive running seeing us in their 22 quickly. A few changes in possession occur but we remain in their half. Magnus came out with an aggressive burst and neutralised the strong LC runners with some crunching chop tackles but unfortunately comes off with injury to the hand. The strong play continues in their 22 with good pressure building right up to their try line. Unfortunately poor discipline causes a penalty and results in turnover and long clearance kick by Cornish.

    Long range kicking ensues on both sides but Hammers patterns put us back in 22. Sam Sheppard and John Mcmanus commanding the pack around and keeping comms up. Cornish quake under the pressure and give up a penalty right in front of the posts. Mcmanus lines up to kick….. and it’s good! Hammers seize the lead 3-0

    Cornish rally and come straight back with a vengeance after a knock-on from the kick-off. Cornish spread the ball wide, found a hole in the Hammers defensive line and score in corner. The stark realisation that this will be a game of attrition sets in. Conversion good from a tough kick in the corner brings Cornish ahead 3-7

    Cornish take us back into our own 22 with some rolling mauls and one-out running but a clearance from Goode gives Hammers some respite. The full-back catches the ball but slips and falls allowing Hammers to swarm in and force the turnover. Deep in enemy territory the Hammers push on and steal gain after gain. The backs start to shift the ball wide but the wet conditions undo us again and a pass just slips out of Hammers hands…. Quick thinking by O’Hara with a swift fly hack through sees a scramble for the ball….Ulton rips it from Cornish fingers and darts for the corner. try!!! Hammers steal the lead right back to make it 8-7. McManus lines up on the corner to take the conversion but it comes up just shy and left. Still 8-7

    8-7 at the half.

    Both teams come out gunning in the second half but lapses in discipline sees Cornish give up 4 penalties in quick succession giving Hammers strong field position. Kicking into touch and effective lineouts from Hammers give us possession in their half. Hammers can’t make use of the space and patterns become less frequent. Cornish come straight back and fight their way out of their half and some breakaway runners storm into Hammers territory.

    Effective box kicking from Sheppard gets distance up the pitch. Taking back the ground takes its toll on Cornish resolve and they begin to falter at the breakdown. Even pack sizes makes scrumming a hard slog throughout with both teams seeming equal for most of the match. The fight is bought to the middle of the field with both teams fighting for possession. A huge effort from the whole pack with strong runs from both locks, Powell and Thomson

    Hammers have wind at their backs for second-half and accurate kicking from Sheppard and McManus sees us pushing slowly forward.

    Suddenly, a rumbling crash ball from a lineout, sees Finn Canney take ball into contact, he ploughs through 3 giant Cornish forwards to power onward and over the line for the try!! McManus adds his compliments with a conversion splitting the uprights – Hammers pull ahead to 15-7!

    Cornish lose their shit and come straight back with huge runs and hits immediately after the kick-off. They kick to corner and drive a maul from the resulting lineout over the line. Cornish reduce the deficit to 15-12. The pressure, wind and kicking position hinder the Cornish kicker who slices the conversion well-right. Hammers still ahead 15:12

    The battle in the middle of the pitch continues and our own Chris Ralph runs some excellent lines but then gets laid out by their 12. O’Hara retaliates by chopping their fly-half in two!!! Huge hitting from both sides sees tensions rise…

    Ulton takes the legs from beneath their lock and he goes down hard. Jack Worton gets involved by chasing down and crunching their winger.

    More Cornish penalties give us field position and possession…Worton makes a great 58 metre run straight down the pitch… he’s caught up and taken down but not held so scrambles up and makes a few extra metres into the Cornish 22!

    Rapid running across the pitch by Hammers spreads the ball to the wingers and Hammers can smell that next try coming. Tim Williams rumbles over the line and scores!! But the Ref blows up and he’s been held up!! 5 metre scrum to Hammers, Cornish drive us off our own scrum and their 8 picks-and-go’s, O’Hara adapts and shoves the runner out of touch.

    Play continues on their 5 metre line and it looks like a hammers try is inevitable….devastating! Intercepted pass by Cornish runs 80 metres but chased down just as he reaches the 22…

    Cornish continue to use the momentum from the intercept and grind hammers defence down to score in the corner. The conversion is missed but Cornish take the lead 15-17 with just minutes to spare.

    Hammers keep their heads up and their resolve steeled. We fight back and trudge into their 22, scrapping for every meter we can get. Time runs against us and we still haven’t broken through….we reach the final seconds, the only way to seize victory will be a drop-goal….

    ….the ruck is set up and John mcmanus drops deep, quick ball out and John takes the shot under pressure…. it has the legs but tragically it flies just right of the posts and the shrill blast of the ref’s whistle screeches defeat for Hammers.

    Final score: Hammers 15 vs London Cornish 17

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