ARNHEM 1XV 35 - 51 CHILTERN WANDERERS XXVIII
On Saturday, after the moving tribute to Jack Grayburn VC at Arnhem War Cemetery, all 116 tourists travelled over the Rhine to visit Arnhem Rugby Club - nicknamed “The Pigs”.
Two matches had been arranged and the Under 15s were first in action. Their match report is outlined in the U15 section so suffice to say here that a large crowd witnessed an excellent game full of skill and endeavour from both sides.
Then the might of Amersham & Chiltern’s adult players took to the field to play Arnhem’s 1st XV which, having lost closely to High Wycombe 1st XV last week, supplemented its ranks with some of the best local talent from other clubs. It mattered not a jot as Chiltern prevailed 35-51 with 28 A&C players, aged between 21 and 75, taking the field for various lengths of rugby. I should say that this was full contact, no holds barred rugby. Who scored? Well, I’m not too sure but it didn’t really matter.
Silky skills from Skelto and Stevens junior in the centre; Zinzan Brooke power and sidesteps from Truffles and Matt Neill; belligerence and a never say die attitude from our front fives Bobbett, Kenyon, Sennefelder, Green, Lurch, Hunter; flanker Simon Coulon, who ruined his tour reputation by not being in a fight despite being on the pitch for 20 minutes; cameos from 75 years young Ian McKenzie, bearded wonder that is Liam Gilhooley, Invincible’s manager Dave Neale; and lastly, the hernia suffering, sartorially challenged, vision of vermillion, pretty in pink that is Spike Stevens, whose joy was fulfilled when he came on for the last 15 minutes to play 9 to his son Joe at 10.
We had the forgotten man Rastelli, who having insisted that he was only going to come on for two minutes happily played for 20; referee Mike Gallagher who suddenly remembered that you have to use your arms in a tackle; Mikey P who insisted on trying to catch every pass one handed and until Fletch brought some late order the chaos that was our total inability to convert any try even from right in front of the posts!
Arnhem never gave up and scored some excellent tries themselves, although we pass swiftly over the one that came from the “after you Claude” incident involving Liam and Duncan Bell – must have been a sniper in the woods. Lastly, Matt Neill’s disgraceful show of petulance must be reported on being substituted three minutes from the end of the game; two U15 dads who had a total of five games of rugby between them in the last 20 years; as well as a host of, as yet, unprintable stories.
At the end of a wonderful, sunny afternoon and a brilliant game of rugby, both sides gathered under the posts to give three cheers for Jack Grayburn.
Afterwards, Arnhem Rugby’s Chairman Olivier Kuijer welcomed us and exchanged rugby club plaques with Richard Bobbett, A&C Chairman, as we began our “celebrations”. Whilst eating the Indonesian BBQ, we had the opportunity to admire their wonderful rugby clubhouse, with so many amazing pieces of begged, borrowed or stolen rugby memorabilia on the walls. We gave an open invitation for Arnhem to visit us in Amersham anytime, though at the same time making a mental note to make sure everything is nailed down before they arrive.
Choruses of “Jesus can’t play rugby” and others filled the coach on the brief journey back to Arnhem over the John Frost Bridge. An easier journey than 70 years earlier.
The occasion and Arnhem’s hospitality and friendship will live long in our memories and will remind us all of what rugby is about.
And, I am truly glad to be able to say that… I WAS THERE.
Match report by Charles Owen-Conway
A&C Chairman of Rugby
Senior/Vets players: Luke Antos, Duncan Bell, Tom Blackburn, Richard Bobbett, Roy Burridge, Simon Coulon, Tom Fletcher, Mike Gallagher, Liam Gilhooley, Jerry Green, Tony Hunter, Jimmy Irwin, Peter Kenyon, Ian McKenzie, Jonathan Moughton, Dave Neale, Matt Neill, Mike Perera, Dan Pettinger, Nic Rastelli, Steve Rose, Jonathan Royals, Ulrich Sennefelder, Rupert Simmonds, Dave Skelton, Joe Stevens, Spike Stevens, Andy Thomson.