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AGC Corps 20th Anniversary Tour of Romania 2012


By Captain Allan Brown Secretary AGC Rugby, Detachment Commander 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

On Tuesday 26th June 2012 twenty eight members of the AGC RUFC departed London Heathrow en route to Romania. Despite the expected issues associated with taking 28 individuals from 8 different countries through one of the world’s busiest airports (herding cats springs to mind), we managed not to hold our BA flight up too long with our oversize cabin baggage.

After having my shoes stolen whilst asleep on the plane we managed to eventually clear customs and meet our tour rep Gabriel (male just in case you’re wondering). We settled into our city centre hotel and went out to sample the delights of Bucharest, perhaps a bit too much as most of us arrived back at the hotel just in time for breakfast. Bucharest really is a fantastic city that never sleeps.

After a quiet day to get to know the local area (sleep) the team went on a fantastic guided tour of the Peoples Palace, built by the then Communist President Nicolai Chauchesku. The palace, now the Romanian government building, is the second largest building in the world, top trumped only by the Pentagon in Washington.

The team coaches Sgt Adrian Cubbin and Sgt Faz Farrar worked hard to prep the team for Match 1 at the Dynamo Stadium (Bucharest) against the unexpected opposition of SuperLiga side Dynamo Bucharest. Dynamo Bucharest have won 16 National titles and are a professional team with international capped players. I think it’s fair to say that the team were both anxious and excited to play such esteemed opposition in front of a large crowd.

The team captain LCpl Jack Berry fired the lads up for the game and after a quick team photo the match kicked off at 1800 hrs in 29°c heat. Our opposition were bigger, better drilled and more professional, they scored within 3 mins and converted with ease. Against the run of play the AGC scored a breakaway try on 7 mins, but failed to convert.
The home team then scored 7 tries and converted 4 taking the half time score to 50 points to 5 in their favour.

After the break the home team swapped their complete line up for fresh players and a further 4 tries and 3 conversions made the final score 76 points to 5. The AGC put up a brave fight and performances by Sgt Meli Tawakilai, Sgt V Vacacegu and LCpl Craig Fillier are worthy of special mention.

We knew that Romanian rugby would be tough, we had just been taught how tough our challenge was going to be.

Friday 29th June was a day of culture in the form of a trip to explore Bran castle, home to Vlad Tepes, the inspiration behind the film Bram Stokers Dracula.

Whilst in the area the team took the opportunity to visit the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery at Tincabesti. In this little cemetery lie 83 British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen from WW1 and WW2 who were sadly lost in some amazing and daring feats of bravery. As a military touring party all members of the team took the time to read the inscriptions of those that lie in the cemetery and pay our respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Match 2 was against CFR Grivitia Rosie Bucharest. The home side have won 12 domestic titles between 1948 and 1993 and more impressive had won the European Cup in 1964. The match kicked off at 1100 hrs in 24°c heat.

The AGC were really fired up for this game however couldn’t stop the home side going 12 – 0 up within 15 mins. A great chip and chase by Pte Ollie Towers brought the score back to 12 – 5, however the conversion was missed.

The second half started very well with 2 tries and 1 conversion from the AGC bringing the score to 12 – 17 before a try and failed conversion for Grivita Rosie brought it back to 17 – 17.
Another great try (which came from a spectacular dummy) by Sgt Meli Tawacilai took the score to 17 – 22 to the AGC.

On 68 mins the AGC No 5 Maj Aaron Varnels had his shirt literally pulled from his back whilst still holding the ball? The ball still wrapped in the No 5 shirt, was played by Grivita Rosie as the bemused Aaron gave chase, eventually the referee blew up unable to understand why the home side appeared to be passing a shirt.

An AGC penalty on 70 mins and a try for the home side on 75 mins took the final score to 22 – 25 in favour of the AGC. Great performances from Pte Ash Greenwood, LCpl Craig Fillier, Pte Ollie Towers and Capt Chris Adair led to a fantastic hard fought victory.

On Sunday 1st July we left Bucharest for the Black Sea resort of Mamaia Constanta which is best described as the Costa del Sol in the 1980s. Following a day to explore Mamaia and a race on the local go kart track the coaching staff organised an early evening training session on the beach, which drew a fair bit of attention. The locals and tourists thought we were an American Football team (not sure what this says about our playing style) until I took it upon myself to point out the lack of body armour, face paint and girlie helmets.

Match 3 took place at the impressive Faru Rugby Stadium (Constanta), home of Farul Rugby Club. (ţa_(rugby)) Farul have recently won 6 domestic titles and played in the Heineken Cup in 1996.

Of a more worrying nature Farul Constants were the team responsible for the biggest ever rugby fight to be filmed on television ( against our first match opponents Dynamo Bucharest. Worth a watch on YouTube, “biggest ever rugby fight” it pops straight up. I wish we hadn’t watched it prior to the game.

The match kicked off at 1800 hrs in 31°c heat with the Farul team consisting of 5 South African, 3 Fijian and 7 Namibian players on professional contracts and 8 players who have earned international honours. Not to mention a second row who had played for Worcester.

The game was had to be abandoned at half time due to several injuries with the score at 42 – 7 to the home side. The match although one sided, was a great experience for the team. Playing in a good stadium, against great opposition, in front of a crowd of a few hundred of which about 90 were school children bussed in to watch the game was quite an honour for a League 2 Corps side.

On our final day the team took full advantage of the water park situated just 5 mins walk from the hotel. There comes a time in life when it’s just not right to be wearing Speedos, carrying an inflatable doughnut and queuing up for a slide named the black hole however Maj Aaron Varnels RMP and Capt Chris Adair ALS didn’t seem to mind.

All three opposing clubs entertained us well by way of a post match BBQ. The teams Fijian contingent bonded particularly well with their fellow countrymen from the Farul team culminating in a traditional grog session.

Team Captain LCpl Jack Berry presented AGC presentation medals (kindly donated by the Regimental Secretary) to each club during the post match events. In Grivitia Rose’s trophy cabinet it sits next to the European Cup won in 1964. In Farul Rugby Club it sits impressively next to a presentation from London Irish. As for Dynamo Bucharest, well I think they ate it at the post match BBQ.

Final Thoughts – The Adjutant Generals Corps Rugby Union Football Club enjoyed a first rate 20th anniversary tour in Romania. Booking our tour through Teamlink Sports Tours made for a smooth, hassle free experience and I would fully recommend their services to any future touring clubs.

The chairman, secretary, management and team of AGC Rugby would like to thank Regimental Headquarters, the Army Sports Lottery, the Army Rugby Union Community Touring Fund, the Berlin Infantry Brigade Memorial Trust Fund and the British Army Germany Officers Welfare Fund for supporting this fantastic rugby tour.

Further thanks go to the Chain of Command at every level for supporting AGC Rugby throughout the season by releasing players and staff to represent the Corps.
We look forward to your continued support over the coming season and beyond.

“Animo et Fide”

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