Source: David Howlett

The Longest Game Ever?

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Allianz Premier 15s – Round 15

Bristol Bears v Saracens

Probably not, but a game started at 2.30 called a halt at 5.15

It all happened in the first half. Five minutes from kick-off. Georgia Evans sustained a nasty injury to her shoulder; her onfield treatment took a quarter-of-an-hour. Only a few moments after she was applauded from the field Cara Wardle made a big run but suffered a second injury on contact. She too left the field. Charlie Gayther, the referee, had to call a halt, since the one doctor on call was already tending to the first patient.

The match restarted 65 minutes after kick-off. Just eight minutes had been played.

Sarries had to work very hard to put the game to bed. For long periods they seemed to be cruising to victory, the assaults led by Poppy Cleall, Ella Wyrwas, Holly Aitchison and Alev Kelter. They were 17-7 up at half-time, partly due to an interception pass from Phoebe Murray that let Alysha Corrigan run almost the length of the field.

Sarries had almost finished the job when the Bears launched two memorable assaults. Both involved driving mauls. The first was astonishing as it pushed the vaunted Sarries pack back a good 20 metres, (try Alysha Butchers). The second (Sarah Bern) made a signal difference: it assured the hosts of a bonus point for their fourth try, an extra losing point and, even more important, a one-point nudge above Quins to restore them to second place in the table.

Amber Reed had had a day she would prefer to forget, her kicks from hand rarely finishing as planned, and her hands let her down in unfamiliar fashion. But on 80 minutes, with those two points desperately needed, she returned to type and nailed a great conversion into the wind.

Result: 26-30

Table ​​​                      P​     W​      L​       D    Pts

Saracens​​               14      13      1     0    62
Bristol​​​                   15      ​11      4     0    56
Harlequins  ​​         15      11      4     0  ​  55
Exeter​​​                    15      10     4     1     51
Wasps                    15        8     6      1 ​  45
Loughborough ​​​     15       8      6     1    43
Gloucester-H        14        6      ​7     1    37
Worcester​​              15        4     11     0   24
Sale                   ​​      14         1     13    0      7
DMPDS​​                  15         ​0​    15    0      0


Bristol Bears v Saracens
Referee: Charlie Gayther
ARs: Dave Philpot and Holly Wood

with thanks to rugbyreferee,net


I return to a pet subject: why did Alev Kelter join Sarries? It didn’t happen at the start of the season, which would have been more understandable. Instead, the Eagles’ greatest player, having decided to devote herself to 15s, joined the runaway leaders of the Prem 15s. What did the RFU think about it? They can be very media-shy when they want to be. But this move runs counter to the broad aims of the league in more ways than one.

Of course she fancied joining a top team with a proven record, but what good does it do to the state of English rugby? She takes the place of a native-born player in the side and – certainly in today’s game – takes the kicks at goal instead of, say, Holly Aitchison. who might be on call for kicking duties against the USA in the World Cup.

How does Kelter’s move help to balance out the league? Of course, it doesn’t, and under current regulations a top club can apparently mop up a leading overseas player whenever it wants to.

The RFU is busy trying to help DMPDS out of their misfortunes. What if Kelter had been directed there? ‘It’s a free country!’ comes the cry, but when Nigel Melville was in charge at Twickenham Towers, he hinted at the possibility of ‘inviting’ players to switch clubs, in the name of competition. Other people are in charge now, probably with other ideas.

This is in part a reflection of the awkward position the league is in, hovering between pro and amateur status. So long as the ten clubs aren’t offering their players the mouth-watering salaries men earn, London will remain the destination of choice. Sale, Worcester and other clubs can only look on and wonder.