Boxing Day Match 2017

Young Reds Serve Up Some Cracking Boxing Day Fayre

Linlithgow U21  0 – 19  Linlithgow O21

Tuesday 26 December 2017

This annual fixture in its new format is still a much awaited fixture on the Linlithgow Rugby Club calendar. It is the opportunity to renew and reinforce friendships on and off the park as many of the older boys are away at university or in jobs not in Linlithgow.

The pitches had been inspected due to the overnight falling of snow by the Director of Rugby and the President that morning and it was decided for political expediency and health and safety that the game should move to the school pitch at the Academy, which was soft under a covering of snow.

The players gradually all arrived at the rugby club struggling to shake of the excesses of Christmas day and the two captains Sean Hagerty for the Over 21s and Euan Mochrie for the Under 21s  managed to select teams for the annual contest from the available bodies.

The game started on a crisp snow covered pitch and the older players showed their intent with Sean Hagerty taking the lead and collecting the ball which was moved up the park. The stand off John Strachan was using the two centres Andrew Wood and Ben Milne with some effect to gain some ground. The ball was set up well by Lewis Herdman and Jeff Martin on the left wing and when the ball was spun out from Robbie Thomson at scrum half, John Strachan kicked nicely down the park.

Hoochy Tulloch was on hand for the under 21s and returned the ball well linking with Aiden Rennison to bring the ball back up the pitch. Indeed the under 21s were showing that they were going to be no walk over with Euan Mochrie and Mark Caddle tackling and carrying very well as they do for the Reds’ senior team most Saturdays. Both teams showed that the coaching systems being put forward by Mattie Dixon and Dougie Thomson were being put into practice well which made it very difficult for any side to gain the upper hand.

The over 21s showed a bit more guile at the break down through Stu Young and Stewart Michell and were gaining some penalties which John Strachan used to push his team up the park. From a nice clean line out take by Connall Black the over 21s drove forward, with the ball was at the back of the maul and Lewis Herdman screaming for the ball on the blind side wing. Stu Young did not hear him and the under 21s line held but the older boys set up the ball again. This time the captain Sean Hagerty took the responsibility into his own hands and came round the blind side driving his legs as he carried a number of the under 21s over the line to score a fine try.

5-0 to the Overs.

There were many good passages of play and the under 21s were giving a good performance which was creating a good game for all of the spectators. Many had come to see their young boys perform against more experienced opposition. However now the age range and experience is not as great as many are team mates on a normal Saturday. The Manager was very pleased to see one of the former Reds’ standoffs, Dougie Main, now a retired dentist who has been living down south for twenty years, who was asking after many of his old friends.

The over 21s used their experience to keep the ball in the opposition 22 and from one very nice piece of play Mayo Herdman cut a very nice line outside John Strachan to walk over between the posts. This was converted by John Strachan and the Overs now led by 12-0.

The half time whistle went and everyone was glad of a break as the Christmas excesses and lack of activity were catching up with some. Tom Townend came off and Ally Walker had to go to A and E as over exuberant play by one of his own team mates had resulted in in him putting his teeth through his lip. We all hope this means no more than a couple of stitches to maintain his good looks!

The game continued in the same vein in the second half with many pieces of exciting play and not inconsiderable skill and enthusiasm shown by all the players, indeed the view shared by some of those present was that if this level of effort was shown every weekend then the Reds could be at the top of both league tables instead of one.  We have the young and skilful players in the Linlithgow squads which many clubs would envy.

The game continued and the Overs were rewarded a penalty try by the referee when they were marching towards the line. Some would argue this was a bit harsh as there had been no other similar offences and the Overs were a distance from the line.

This brought the score to 19 for the Overs and 0 for the Unders.

A good game all round, a few skint knees on icy snow, a burst lip and no other lasting injuries. Thanks to everyone for turning up and to Ken Richardson for refereeing with consideration to both sides.

Des Martin

View Graham Black’s match photos