Sat 17th May saw Lanzarote RFC make their long-awaited debut on the international arena at a balmy Glynn…home of Larne RFC.
Their first overseas touring party comprised of a merry band of expatriate Argentinians, Spanish, English, Canarians & the home-coming of one Leroy Barnsey Heatley…a Larne man returning to these emerald shores in the colours of his adopted Conejeros.
Larne won the toss following the traditional obligatory pre-match team photos, and elected to kick-off with what little breeze there was at their backs. The home side set out their stall early doors with some intense rucking & mauling carrying them into the visitors 22 almost immediately. The ball was spun wide for the peerless Jackie Wharry to touch down in the corner.
Half-backs Starsky & Rainbow continued to dictate the play with Rainey again setting up Wharry with a delightfully weighted chip ahead. What followed was nothing short of miraculous as Marshy broke from deep to release El Knoxo who showed a clean pair of heels to the cover – his blistering pace taking him into the corner for surely his finest moment in a Larne shirt….Unfortunately the heartless Browner (referee for this auspicious occasion) disallowed the try (Boo!! Hiss!!) claiming El Knoxo had strayed into touch. El Knoxo then proceeded to entertain the crowd with an impromptu strip-tease in retaliation.
With some of the elder statesmen on the Larne side beginning to show signs of wear & tear, it was decided to play the match in four periods of twenty minutes – thus allowing some much needed respite for Rainbow, who’s short legs seemed to be treading water at one point, & Glynncommando returning after knee surgery, in particular. Substitutions allowed Roy Wilson to shuffle his pack with the ageless Willie G & Alan Wilson coming into the side.
Lanza started the stronger of the two sides in the second period of play with Ian Juan Kerr finishing off a beautiful move from fully 39 yards out to bring them back into contention. There then followed a period of crunching tackles (particularly from the Lanza fullback) & a sustained battle ensued between the two packs. Lanza’s props in particular excelled with Pappy at tight-head belying his age with a tremendous surge from deep in his own half. Matt Williams – sign him up now! However some excellent interplay from Marshy set Simmsy (who had come on for Wilson at 10) away in full flight to score under the posts.
The third period saw the introduction of teenage protege Matty Weir at tight-head for Larne & sensational speedster Reese Thomas on the wing. Further changes saw Derek Montgomery & brother Scott united in the centre pairing for Larne & Tommy Baird make a welcome return in Larne colours. Not to be outdone Barnsey Heatley entered the fray for Lanza. However Marshy running from deep again proved the catalyst for Simmsy to show his pace, once again scoring under the posts. At the restart Larne switched the point of attack quickly allowing Reese to show his undoubted ability & scorching pace to go in at the corner. Shortly after Marshall again opened his legs & showed his class before Simms rounded off the move.
The forth period got under way with some vaunted play from the Larne front row of Hagans, Lough & Adair…who figured throughout the entire match, before the inimitable Lough replaced the injured Lanza hooker & finished the match in the opposition front row. Further Lanza fight-back continued in the form of a try for Andy Grande Taylor after a mammoth effort from the Lanza pack drove him over the line. Just reward for a spirited performance. At this stage Simms & Marshy were running the show, with Starsky returning to the fray in imperious form. Mrs Glynn forbade any further shenannigans from her other half & the match drew to a close with another couple of tries for Larne (i’d gone to the bar at this stage – no idea who scored) Final score – Larne 58 Lanza 14. Lanza played a cracking match & the scoreline flattered the home side as Lanza competed savagely at the breakdown & set-piece in particular.
Great thanks must go to Alan Long of the Eagle Bar who kindly sponsored the match & Davy Brown, who refereed. Dewi Barnes & Frio Lopal fan Phil attended for the duration of the match, with Phil leaving on an errand of mercy to provide vaseline for an injured Lanzaman (don’t ask!!)
On consulting in the bar afterwards, FRU awarded the Man of the Match award to Simmsy (much to Starsky’s disgust) for his sparkling display. Further mention must go to El Knoxo for his mid-match Haka, Glynncommando for emerging un-scathed & without injury, Alan Wilson (in his 50th year) & Larne legend & incumbent President Sticky Nelson who addressed the massed players in the clubhouse afterwards as he twirled his ‘tache.
Thanks also go to Derek & Ronnie Lough for their catering & Larne RFC for hosting such a feast of free-flowing rugby with a veritable cornucopia of tries…& presenting a club jersey to every Lanzaman – a wonderful gesture matched by FRU with their latest t-shirts going to the tourists from Lanzaland. Plans are already underway for a return match in the sunshine next year when Larne President’s Select will take part in the inaugural Lanzaland Beach Rugby Tournament.
Watch this space!!!!