HMS Argyall RFC v Fort Lauderdale RFC




Fort Lauderdale RFC

HMS Argyll arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a 2 week maintenance period and some well deserved downtime after what proved to be a very successful start to their APT(N) deployment, both politically and physically after visiting various overseas terrortories and seizing a sizeable amount of narcotics during their Counter Narcotic Patrols. The majority of the ships personnel had loved ones and family flying out to spend quality time together after their time away. On the last night of their stay in Fort Lauderdale HMS Argyll RFC had a fixture penned in against the Florida, 2 times consecutive state runners up, Fort Lauderdale RFC, a fixtue that would prove to stop the undefeated Argyll RFC band wagon in it's tracks with a grinding halt. With key players missing such as AB(WS) Blake Smith, who was sent to England for trials with the RNRU U23's, LCH Matthew Roberts, CPO Jon Geofroy and CPO John Oliver all spending valuable time with their families, POET(ME) William Williams missing through illness and LS(EW) Adrian McFarlane unavailable due to injury and others with work and personal commitments a depleated Argyll team boarded their coach and made their way to Mills Pond Park on a hot and humid evening of a day that at times had reached 92 degrees farenheit.

Argyll arrived at Mills Pond Park after a 15 minute drive through the madness of the Florida roads. Fort Lauderdale RFC were already at the ground and awaiting their British opponents, as with all of the other games Argyll have been involved in during their deployment, the prospect of playing the 'Brits' has enticed people onto the sidelines and this fixture was no different; the sideline was busy with people anticipating the game ahead, the Fort Lauderdale committee had made a lot of effort and had organised a BBQ and beers for the spectators which made for a great atmosphere even before the game had started.

After the referee had spoken to both teams and explained the game to be played in 20 minute quarters due to the heat and humidity, the Captains completed the coin toss and both Argyll and Fort Lauderdale lined up as the sun was going down behind a line of palm trees, with the flood lights flicking into action. The game started at a frantic pace with Fort Lauderdale kicking to Argyll and immediately advancing onto their opponents, Florida state had just finished a period of Rugby 7's and this was immediately apparent with the way Lauderdale approached the game. Argyll started strong and spent the first 10 minutes of the game pushing Lauderdale back, Lauderdale though were just finding their feet and gathering momentum. The first points on the board came in the form of a penalty for Argyll, the Brits had forced their way into the Lauderdale red zone, with some attacking play and determined rucking the referee awarded the penalty for the Lauderdale player playing the ball off his feet. Lt (Grant) Dalgleish deputising for the absent Smith opted for the posts and slotted the ball down the middle to make the score 0-3, a slender lead for Argyll that wasn't going to last for long. Lauderdale's reply was imminent and having turned the ball over pretty much straight from the restart they worked the ball across their line and with some confusion between S/Lt (Beau) Henrickson (filling the Outside Centres position for the first time) and LPT (Sam) Sims their No. 13 stepped inside them both and ran clear to put the ball between the posts, the kick was converted and in the blink of an eye the score was 7-3. Argyll didn’t even have time to blink again before they were found wanting, the Lauderdale forwards again turned the ball over, worked the ball rapidly along their backs to the left wing where they had 3 men over and their winger ran the ball home for their second try in as many minutes. The kick was converted and Argyll were down 14-3 and the game started to look like an uphill battle for the Argyll boys with only approximately 15 minutes of the game gone. The remainder of the first quarter belonged to Argyll and they forced Lauderdale back with some great work from the forwards, reverting to a 'Steam Train' like tactic by giving the ball to WO1 (Graham) Bastow to mow his way through their front line. After a few of these drives of sheer brute force and ignorance, Argyll were deep in the Red Zone of Lauderdale and the ball worked it's way to Dalgleish who ran home from 5 yards out, he converted his try and made the scores 14-10. Shortly after that the whistle went for the end of the first quarter and an already tired Argyll huddled to see what they could do about the onslaught they were getting at the hands of the Americans.

Little did Argyll know but they were lined up against 4 players who had just returned from an International U23 camp and another 5 of them were on their summer break from college where they had just won for the 3rd time the Florida State Championships; they were sharing the pitch with some very talented players.

The second period had started like the first, Lauderdale were rampant and used their pace to great effect, passing the ball down their line quicker than Argyll could react to do anything about it. At times the tackling from Argyll was strong, but before any advantage could be made the Lauderdale team would quickly recycle the ball and continue their onslaught. The 2 week break the Argyll players had in the 'Sunshine State' was really starting to take it's toll on them and it was only 30 minutes into the game. Lauderdale ran in 3 more unanswered converted tries in this 20 minute spell all of which were similar in nature, Argyll would make a tackle and the Lauderdale forwards would beat them to the ball and send one of their Centre's crashing through a hole in Argyll's non existent back line and run the ball home unchallenged. At half time Argyll came in 36-10 down on the scoreboard and were licking their wounds.

At half time Argyll re-grouped and tried to come to terms with what they were facing; losing so badly and only at half time was not in their nature, regardless of the missing players and the conditions, the performances needed to be stepped up all around the park. The forwards needed to be more aggressive, where this has been a dominant force in all of the previous games this Lauderdale team were bullying the Argyll pack and something needed changing. The back line more often than not were dog legged in defence and made for easy picking by the Lauderdale onrushers who could drive a bus through some of the gaps at times. In the background there was a piper practicsing his tunes at the nearby fire station, marching up and down the forecourt, little did he know that there were 20 British sailors from a warship affiliated with Argyll & Bute, if he did I am sure he would have played harder and louder for them. Argyll knew what they needed to do, some of it was now damage limitation but their pride was on the line here.

After all the talk and the motivation and the piper piping Argyll intended to start the second half brightly, however Lauderdale had other intentions. The half was only 2 minutes long when they again broke the back line worked the ball out to their winger who stepped inside ET(WE) Alex Jay at full back and ran his way home to put the ball between the posts to which it was converted. A feeling of deja vu rained down on a rapidly deflating Argyll team. The score now 43-10. Just when Argyll thought things couldn't have got any worse, they did, Dalgleish went down after tackling their Centre and with his opponent landing on him he had hurt himself to the point where he could no longer continue. With Dalgleish already deputising for Smith who was away Lt Cdr (Ian) Bailey slotted into the number 10 role and having ran out of backs on the bench Argyll were forced into borrowing a Lauderdale replacement who then slotted into Bailey's 13 role. The end of this quarter saw Lauderdale run in 3 more converted tries, 2 made from errors by the Argyll players and one where their winger out paced everyone on the field. 60 minutes gone and the score was 64-10.

With the final water stop taking place Argyll were down but not out, Lauderdale rang in the changes to give all of their boys a chance at the Brits but Argyll were determined to see the game out to the end.

This final quarter definitely belonged to the Argyll boys, albeit too late to salvage anything from the game it was now more about personal pride. They reverted back to their strengths and were picking and driving at the Lauderdale back line, their resilience paid off half way through after Argyll had forced their way in to the Lauderdale Red Zone and with a last effort of a drive the ball was bundled home for their second try of the game and it came as a relief, even the home supporters cheered the score. The try was converted by Bailey and that made the score 64-17. For the remainder of this quarter Argyll stood strong, their tackles were being made and they spent the majority of it deep in Lauderdale territory, unfortunately though no more scores came and with that the Referee brought the proceedings to an end.

In hindsight the Fort Lauderdale team were not the best opponents for a ships team, they were a class above, but with a full team to choose from and not coming back from a 2 week stint of the joys of American living the result may well have been different. Even at the end the Argyll team still had positives to take from it, they dug in to the best of their ability, everyone tried their best on the night and stood tall to be counted; sometimes your opponents are just too good. The fixture ended in good spirits with the tunnel and then the Argyll team made the most of the free beer and BBQ before retiring battered and bruised to the ship.

The next game for Argyll will be vs Baltimore Chesapeake RFC during the Star Spangled Sepctacular visit in Mary Land.

Team List;
WO1 Graham Bastow (Rep ET(ME) Martyn Allatt)
LT Ben Eglington (Rep POET(WE) David Side Bottom)
LS(AWW) Jon Larson
LET(ME) Matthew Monnington (Rep LT James Cooke)
LAC Richards
LET(ME) Gareth Willey
LT Anthony Kane
LAET Dan Carroll
Lt Cdr Jonh Bowett
LT Grant Dalgleish
LPT Sam Sims
S/Lt Beau Henrickson
Lt Cdr Ian Bailey
AB(WS) Jack Thompson
ET(WE) Alex Jay

This match is part of the ‘You Play We Pay’ initiative.