No heroics, but plenty of heroes
There are ‘rugby players’, and there are rugby players. RCL belong in the latter category of players whereas the opposition clearly consider themselves members of the former class. And well they should! Tall, heavy, strong looking players in the forwards, in part, as well as the odd wanna-be; the backs were athletic-looking, obviously very well conditioned. Nevertheless, as far as the first half was concerned Lausanne, provided very little real threat to RCL despite creating a lead consisting of a couple of tries. Indeed, RCL were most definitely in with a shout at half-time.
Time and time again, sides come up against an RCL line of defense of which it can be said is second to none in League B – the first half being no exception to this rule yesterday. Increasingly, any spectator can witness how teams, exasperated at not being able to score, close to the RCL try-line for minutes on end – which must seem like hours on end, surrender to this moment and look elsewhere for a scoring opportunity. Lausanne did this yesterday after having spent five minutes or so on RCL’s try-line in the first quarter. After they conceded there was no way in, Lausanne moved the ball out wide, and scored a relatively comfortable try with the backs. Not much later, Dave Reber kicked a penalty to put points on the board for RCL and there was really not much to tell between the teams. No sooner had Lausanne put more points on the board, than RCL were camped up in Lausanne’s half winning one penalty or scrum after the other. And what a story the scrums make for the telling: how often do you see a smaller, lighter pack push back and humiliate the opposition in the scrums in a game? Not often. But if you had seen the mighty efforts made by the pack yesterday on the field of play, you would also believe it is a story worth the telling.
Despite some favourable refereeing and the strenuous efforts of individuals, RCL did not manage to convert the possession and territory into points. Too much madcap decision making? Perhaps. Not enough cohesion? Perhaps. A lack of strategic planning for such moments. Most definitely! There was no contingency; this looked like a coaching error.
The second half was another story. It is a different tale. All tales need to be told and this part of the narrative is no different. Lausanne came into their own in the second half. Their running skills in the back-line – ability to change the angle of running to a sharp degree off-footed many a player. Lausanne’s off-loads in the tackle made it very difficult to defend their attacking play in mid-field. Lausanne were very well able to stay on their feet in the tackle, and get the ball away to a supporting player. Those players who did make breaks for Lausanne, nearly always found someone willing to receive the ball, too. This particular aspect of their game is something that can be learned from.
However, all this aside and to finish the telling of this tale one needs to consider this: as the points on the board rose higher and higher, did the smiles of the faces of RCL I grow thinner? No! As the number of tries conceded grew larger, did RCL’s commitment diminish? No! As the jeering cheers grew louder in the Lausanne quarter, did RCL’s resilience recede? By no means whatsoever. Whose cheers were the louder as teams clapped each other off the field? RCL’s is whose. Whose lips stay sealed in support of their team-mates? RCL’s. What were the referee’s words after the game, “They never once lost heart!”. Whose hearts? RCL’s. Those are whose. To finish, here in the words of John Steinbeck, “Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.” It is this that makes RCL not simply great men, but men of greatness!