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Devizes Triumph at Manchester, 2002

Rick Kibby  Friday, August 02, 2002  19:43 GMT

After meeting up in good time at 9.00 a.m. on Saturday, 27 July, 2002, the over 40's side left Devizes by 11 o'clock on their epic journey to Eccles in Manchester. After stopping in every county on the way to sample the local brew the Old Boars magical mystery tour arrived at stopover luxury accommodation on the Welsh border - just a stone's throw from the ancient, walled city of Chester. After a quiet night out sight-seeing and fraternising with the locals, the touring side were up early the next morning to get to their destinantion of Eccles RFC in good time for the Spirit of Friendship Festival as part of the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Following a light training session, Devizes were ready for their first game of the afternoon. The 20 strong squad were thankfully bolstered by the addition of former 1XV player, John Long, who had travelled up for the day whilst holidaying in Brecon.

The Old Boars trotted out in some style to face their first opponents, De La Salle RUFC. This clash turned out to be between the side nearest to Eccles aand the side who had travelled the furthest - Devizes. Unfortunately, the Old Boars were taken by surprise by a ferocious all-action side, going down 28 - 10.

However, following a stern, rousing team talk by weekend skipper and part-time Welshman, Stuart Hadden, the Old Boars' spirits were raised to fever pitch and they were now ready to quash the Southern Softies image so wrongly rumoured. Despite losing Rick Kibby to a rib injury and although further leg injuries to Mark Hill and Martin Cross robbed the tourists of 2 important players, the Old Boars managed to put Devizes on the Commonwealth map. Tony Smith drew on his vast experience, dancing his way through defences, and was able to release the rampaging Rod Brown, who stormed over for a hat trick of tournament tries.

The second game saw the Old Boars tear at the heart of the Pacemakers, a side form the Isle of Man, and they throughly deserved their 24 - 7 victory. After a short 10 minute break, the Devizes team rallied once again, with John Bathe's early morning training run taking effect. In the searing heat, another excellent victory against hosts, EGOR Rugby Club, saw the Boars bring home the bacon by stamping their authority on the game, coming away winners by 38 - 10.

No medals were awarded for the tournament as such but, if they had been, as pool winners Devizes would have collected silver. All the competing sides did receive a commerative plaque and as a bonus (if all of this was not enough) Devizes player Rod Brown picked up the Trafford Park Award given to the most industrious player of the day.

It was pleasing to see Youth Coaches, Jim Lloyd, Jon Thompson, Pete Barter, Pete Bullock, Rod Brown and Bill Gould all producing the goods and honing their skills at a much higher level. Fine performances were also displyed by current players, Paul Dyton, Ian Cook, Alan Knight and Andy Webb, along with guest artiste Chris Garratt, new boy Mick Knapp and, reminding the selectors of days gone by, Clive Meaney and Ian Goshawk.

The whole squad played their part in representing the South of England and can feel proud in cementing north-south relations while acting as great ambassadors for Devizes Rugby Club. As always, the game of rugby union was the winner.

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