Retired international and premiership players met up in Aldershot on Sunday 29 September 2013 to take on one of the Army’s top Corps teams ‘the Royal Engineers’ in support of the Rugby for Heroes charity and to embrace the core values of rugby. Team manager and founder of Rugby for Heroes, Alan Lamb, along with head coach John Voss, assembled some of the top players from both the civilian and military sectors to take up the challenge. Recruiting players from the Army, Navy and Air Force supported by rugby greats Thinus Delport, Henry Paul, Ollie Smith, Junior Paramore, Chris Forty, Rob Fiddler, Nicky Little, Duncan Bell and Speedy and couple this with the strong management team of Army head coaches in Axel Rees for XVs and Alfred Vanua in 7s along with Daz Percy for kit and Jo Magill as the Physio, this was going to be a festival of rugby to be remembered.
As expected, the weather was great and the conditions set, rugby was the only thing left to do the talking and the spectators didn’t need to wait for long. From the kick off both teams applied immense pressure to gain possession by bone shattering tackles that could be felt in the stands and welcomed by the spectators. After the normal handling errors from a newly formed team, R4H skipper Thinus Delport broke through the Sappers defence to score in the left corner, demonstrating his change of pace even after international retirement. Energised, R4H won the restart and shipped the ball to Thinus who found the try line again, showing the same pace for the second time. Two tries down, the Sappers regrouped to solidify defence on the wings and scored two unanswered tries to equal the score in the first quarter. Calm leadership on the pitch by Duncan Bell and Rob Fiddler saw the defence in the middle of the pitch remain strong with the wings covered by Chris Forty and Nicky Little neutralising further attacks and set up a platform for the R4H team to run in four unanswered tries giving them a lead at the break 34 – 10.
Refreshments and energy drinks consumed, R4H team were out on the park stretching off ready for the second half which started by the Sappers scoring a fine try within the first minute catching the midfield sleeping, breaking the defence and scoring in the right corner. The restart was a different affair seeing R4H team continuing where they left off in the first half by an exceptional set piece play and destroying the defence of the Sappers by exploiting gaps and pouring players through the space to see them cause havoc with running lines that would cause confusion to any team. This resulted in R4H scoring seven tries in the second half that put the game out of contention to the Sappers. However, they never gave up and scored two fine tries in the later stages of the game to see the final score 79 – 29 with R4H claiming the cup. Two players should be mentioned for their ability to score tries; Thinus Delport scoring four tries but also Tuvita Tamatawale scoring 5 tries, both achieving this by some sensational running and ball handling skills.
Finally, we would like to say thank you to the Royal Engineers Rugby Team for playing this fixture against R4H team and I hope all those present enjoyed the rugby played and the skills from both teams on show, we look forward to seeing you for our next game.