Rugby Union had to feature in one of my multi-sport weekends, cricket on Friday followed by Saracens at London Welsh on Saturday, with London Skolars to finish of my weekend.

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For the final game of the weekend a crowd of us had decided to make an outing of it and had booked into the hotel next to the Kassam Stadium.

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It’s a fair trek to Oxford from Chelmsford so I gave myself plenty of time – the M25 scenario was as per usual – glass in the inside 2 lanes!  As in lots of people driving in the 3rd lane not overtaking a soul!  Ooh it makes me grrrrrrrr!

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The M40 wasn’t a problem at all – the nearer I got to Stokenchurch the more evident the amazing Red Kites were.  I have mentioned them before, but these beautiful birds were reintroduced into this country in that area and have now spread country wide.  They make for an amazing sight!

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I arrived at the hotel in plenty of time, too early for check in, yet I was given my ‘key’ unfortunately to a room that wasn’t ready!  Good job the room was empty!  2nd time lucky and I was given an empty, clean room.

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A group had gone into Oxford but I went the glamorous lunch from Sainsbury’s route, I know how to live!  I had a lovely chat with fellow Saracens fans while I ate, time to go to the game was approaching.

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We were there en masse because it was the last game of the season, but it had turned out that it was going to be a season defining game as well.  With 1st and 2nd in the Premiership filled by Northampton Saints and Bath Rugby; 3rd and 4th were up for grabs.

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The Oxford centre crowd returned – which was a relief as my good friend Alun had my ticket! Phew!  We walked round to the ground to be met by a well natured group as you’d expect at a rugby match.

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We’d bought a T Shirt each, labelled up with our ‘Badger’ logo (Don’t ask!) the Supporters Association, a number and name – I’m afraid mine didn’t quite make it over my head – I just can’t do T Shirts! I did show willing and drape it though!

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The task in front of Saracens was to win, to score at least 4 tries and once the 4 were in the bag to then score as many points as possible.  The day had started with Leicester Tigers in 3rd place a point ahead, Exeter Chiefs in 4th on points difference and Saracens in 5th – someone was going to be going home disappointed.

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It’s been a terrible year for London Welsh, having come up to the Premiership they had a very lonely 1 point to show for their efforts.  Credit to the fans who came to see their teams’ final game in the Premiership for a while and to see Tom May off in style as he finished his playing career.

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I imagine it would have been very easy for the home team to lie down and make no effort, but pride is a powerful thing.    Saracens kicked off the scoring with a try by Billy Vunipola converted by Owen Farrell.  But Welsh were next on the scoreboard through a Nic Reynolds try, duly converted by Chris Elder – that made us go quiet!

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David Strettle scored 4 minutes later, Farrell – who had an immaculate boot all afternoon converted the try.  Chris Elder kicked a penalty to keep the Welsh score ticking over.  Mako Vunipola showed his little brother he could get on the scoreboard too with the next try – a 7 pointer thanks to Farrell.

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Imagine the shock on the Saracens’ faces when Chis Elder scored straight from the kick off – a great try, he rushed down the line to run in to put the ball down – he converted his own try.  Saracens weren’t finished for the half Chris Ashton scored the 1st of a brace of tries.  Farrell actually missed this conversion.  The teams went in at half time with the score on London Welsh 17 Saracens 26 – 3 of the 4 tries needed were in the bag for Saracens at this point – but not the win.

A Stag Party - I hope!
A Stag Party – I hope!

London Welsh have ofen held their own for the 1st 40 minutes – I confess that I did of course want Saracens to do what was needed to progress, yet I didn’t want to see these men thrashed.

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The 2nd half was something of a try fest for Saracens with – Alex Goode and Juan Figalo scoring – Chris Ashton adding a further 3 to his personal tally and Charlie Hodgson scoring a great solo try in the 75th minute.

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Owen Farrell had something of a task with some of the conversions but he kicked them all,  in spite of missed one before half time, he looked back to his kicking best.

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London Welsh failed to score in the second half, yet they carried on making every effort, they must be credited for that!

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Twitter had kept us all in touch with what had gone on at the other games, Leicester Tigers, a remarkable team did enough to beat a weakened Northampton Saints to take 3rd place. Exeter Chiefs played an immense game against Sale Sharks – the score finished on Chiefs 44 Sharks 16. A superb win, but Saracens bigger points victory meant they leapfrogged the Chiefs into 4th.

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I sincerely wish London Welsh well in the Championship – the club and their fans have just been through a dreadful season, I hope next year sees lots of wins for them, as a London Broncos fan I saw the only win they got last season – watching a loss week after week was so incredibly hard.

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The afternoon was a great one as a Saracens fan and the laughter and enjoyment carried on into the evening – the move to Aliianz Park has changed the way fans connect and some really great friendships have grown this season.

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As far as facts and figures are concerned – just a few

  • Cost of Ticket                      – £28.00
  • Real Ale                               –  £  4.00
  • Carling Lager Bottle          – £  3.80
  • Hotel (I should add this)  – £105.00 A bit pricey for a basic hotel
  • Best moment of the game – has to be multi moments – 4 tries by Chris Ashton!
  • Nicest moment of the day – spending time with good friends – lots of laughter, lots of fun – oh and lots of shouting at the game!

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I seem to be making a habit of not being cool at the end of games!  Ollie Barkley – a long time favourite player of mine.

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you Debbie. Just sorry you couldnt join us in Oxford in the morning. I agree with you entirely about the freindships we are making on the way. Brilliant.

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