There is nothing like winning your opponent’s respect. This is what RCL did yesterday. There were very different attitudes to be read in the faces of the opposition coaching team after the game as they came over to shake my hand. Without a doubt, yesterday’s performance on the pitch made RCL contenders. In a couple of short exchanges with coaches and players from the opposition, what became most evident was change. Change is taking place. RCL is moving on. RCL as a team has developed. I will leave it up to the reader to quantify the changes as we go along. How well did that front row do yesterday? Not exactly new to hooking, but out of position anyway, Sami did a great job at hooker, expressing his joy at being able to get underneath his opposite front row. Sven too was playing in a position not unknown to him and did a great job, still managing to find the reserves to get around the field with ball in hand. And what about Tarjan! He received high praise from his captain, and impressed with his quick thinking in getting passes out off the side of the ruck in order to keep the ball alive.
The first 15 minutes according to my notes were very competitive. RCL often had Lausanne on the back foot and were contesting the game on equal measure across the team. Despite conceding a try after 15 minutes, RCL did not drop their heads and were really back in contention again with RCL’s scrum holding up really well. Interestingly, an informal chat with a player and coach revealed the following: Lausanne thought their scrum was a lot better than it was; their coach thought RCL contested the game for 30 minutes of the first half. Both statements have some truth. RCL were very competitive until the try before half-time. They were in contention much longer. Coming back after the first try and getting back on top of Lausanne was evidence of a team. The next five minutes after the try and conversion were owned by RCL. RCL won line-outs against the odds! However, gifts such as free-kicks in the middle of the park cannot be thrown away. Such reversals of fortune in the story of a team’s 80 minutes on the field can make all the difference in the world. In the tight matches RCL are competing, throwing away possession cannot be permitted. It is another thing however to forge a path up the middle of the field and then attack the outside channel keeping the ball alive the whole time. It was truly spectacular to watch RCL keeping the ball alive and attacking the spaces down the right. This was smart rugby. It almost looked like there was going to be try as a result. Almost. Minutes later, RCL were denied a try in the bottom left hand corner by a knock-on.
No sooner had the ball gone over to the opposition, than they scored before half-time.
Excellent game by the second and back rows. Both constellations relatively new to the whole, Tim assuming a new role which he accomplished very well. While Remo might be slightly hampered by blinkers when running onto the ball off the side of second, third phase ball, he makes up for it in tackling and force. No less a tenacious tackler is Fabian A. There is no player big enough for this guy to fell.
There were many good decisions made in the rest of the second half. There were many good choices made throughout. There was great attacking rugby down the left flank. There was great tackling and jackling and huge efforts at keeping the ball alive – the backs really need to be commended for this. They stayed on their feet when they could, and did their utmost to try and get across the line. Comments from the side line were often about an apparent lack of patience, and this might be justified. Having run the opposition pack off their feet a couple of times, RCL might have benefited from one or two more phases of ball. Last but not least: there was something emanating from the touchline that I had not heard before. It was a palpable ‘Ahh’ of disappointment. While I share their sentiment in some ways, Saturday’s performance was remarkable. It was outstanding in many ways. I was asked, “What happened down in Lausanne?”. RCL have come a long way since then. It will be interesting to see how the same team fares next weekend against Bern.