The BAG rugby squad containing a number of development players completed a clean sweep over the premier home based teams in Cyprus last week. Working out of RAF Akritori, the 30 man squad completed a week of training and two tough matches as preparation for the ‘tests’ coming up Vs Belgium (09 Feb) and Denmark (09 Mar) respectfully.
Head Coach WOII Scotty Willson 28 Engr Regt RE and Asst coach SSgt Rob Jones QDG worked the squad hard in-between a number of team building exercises which included a trip to church, a cold dip in the Med, a bowling challenge and a quiz night (won by the DoR’s pre 80s knowledge!). The team also took a three hour skills session for the RAF Akritori junior section as well as visiting the usual tourist haunts of Kolossi Castle, Currium and Paphos. The two matches hopefully allowed the coaching team to build some structure that will surely be tested against the academy style trained teams of Belgium and Denmark.
The first test was against a Cyprus A selection containing 5 of their record breaking squad and a number of on-island rugby tourists. Amongst the southern hemisphere twangs there was some good home grown talent which together formed a formidable outfit.
The BAG team met fire with fire and led by skipper Capt Ben McNeil SCOTS DG matched the Cypriots in all departments. The edge in physically began to show when BAG debutant Rfn ‘Little Joe’ Lalikai 5 Rifles left his mark on two of the Cyprus A backline, both players being forced to retire from the field. The BAG team were more than just grunt and some great supporting play with interaction between both forwards and backs saw a brace of tries apiece for Tpr Ratu SCOTS DG and LCpl Komisyasi SCOTS DG. The formidable front row of LCpl Davies QDG, LCpl Chambers 5 Rifles and Spr Koryardi 35 Engr Regt added some serious grunt and by the last quarter the BAG team began to run away with the match winning a hard fixture 42-22.
The match was also significant as three servicemen with famous sporting brothers graced the turf; RAF fireman Sam Burns brother of England and Gloucester star Freddie Burns for Cyprus A and for BAG Miles Davies brother of Wales rugby star Bradley Davies and Jack Kirmond the younger brother of RL Super league player Danny Kirmond.
The second match and the real ‘Test’ was against British Army Cyprus. The BA (C) team had a week to prepare and to their management’s credit managed to get the very best of Army rugby from all over the island; both SBAs as well as the UN line in the north.
Early BAG pressure saw McNeil give the BAG side an early penalty lead before the hugely physically BA (C) side started to pound the thin blue line. The call from the BAG coaches was for patience and so it proved when a well worked backs move after a turnover resulted in a try for SCOTS DG flyer Tpr Sokia. This galvanised the bigger opposition pack who pressured the BAG side enough to close the gap to 8-3 at the half. The younger BAG side were banking on their fitness and good use of the bench enable the BA (C) to remain in contention in a see-saw second half that at one stages saw the BA (C) side close to 11-13. The structure when added to the guile of LCpl Vimitaki 4 SCOTS saw BAG open up a bigger lead only to be pegged back by BA (C). The final acts, good work by Spr Spelman 28 Engr RE in the loose and a resurgence in the scrum saw the BAG pack urged on by pack leader Cpl Volavola 35 Engr Regt get BAG back to the BA (C) line and set up Cpl Jim Tuitibua SCOTS DG to go over.
Final score 25-16 to BAG.
A week in Cyprus against opposition who would be comfortable in ARU Premiership and ARU Inter Corps Div 1 can be had by visiting Cyprus and playing Army Cyprus and Cyprus A. All up costs were only £ 6000 and remember you can always ask for support from the Director of Community Rugby for help with travel and tour expenses.