Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Going back to a land down under

As the sun sets on an eventful season, we say goodbye to our Antipodean recruits, Tim Loughnan and James Stephenson. Rarely do people join a club and fit in as immediately as these two boys and they will be sorely missed both on and off the pitch.

Tim Loughnan

James Stephenson
The New Zealand club player exchange is a relatively new experiment for Tring and has already been extremely successful. Last year, Greg Blick set the backline on fire with his searing pace and Joe Collins slotted into the Front Row, although unfortunately he spent much of last season injured.

This year, we foraged the rugged South Canterbury plains to cherry pick two titans of the Crusaders Youth Rugby set up. Tim and James arrived in November amidst much fanfare. The team’s suspect run would surely come to an end now the next Dan Carter and Richie McCaw had joined our ranks. They instantly impressed in training and were itching to get out on the field. 

However, things didn’t go according to plan straight away. Indeed, the Kiwi cohorts must have wondered what they had signed up for - bemused by a three and a half hour journey to play Diss under two inches of snow! Despite the loss, the boys let their hair down on the bus trip home – their singing initiation may well have shattered glass and curdled milk but their  ‘game for a laugh’ attitudes fitted the team dynamic well.

James more than filled a Huw Slater shaped hole in the Second Row, bringing some added steel and aggression. His line-out expertise allowed us to successfully reshuffle and breath new life into our set pieces, which was a key factor in our fantastic run in. He ran hard lines for 80 minutes and would always make big tackles – the type that gives the whole team a lift.

James was something of a would-be-lothario as well, leaving a string of broken hearts around Tring and the dance floors of Aylesbury…even with those questionable neon blue jeans!
The famous jeans!
Tim brought a calming assurance to the back line. His laid-back, laissez-faire style was the perfect foil for the busy workers such as JP and Liam Chennells. His deceptive pace and highly affective sidestep meant he ghosted through tackles with a graceful air.

His versatility served us well, proving a solid Centre, Full Back and even a visionary Fly-Half in the Cup Final. But it was at Wing were he had the most success, scoring an impressive eight tries including two in the memorable victory at Bishops Stortford.

They both made fantastic contributions to the club this season and their Haka on the bus home from North Walsham was an excellent tribute to remember them by. As they embark on boozy jaunts around Europe before returning home to the Land of the Long White Cloud, we wish them all the best.
Haka on the bus

As part or a new Tring tradition, a verse to the club song ‘We are Rangers’ was penned in their honour:
[Verse to be sung in best New Zealand accent]

I know a couple of fellas from Kiwi
All: I know a couple of fellas from Kiwi
One called Timmy and one called Jimmy
One called Timmy and one called Jimmy
Tell the truth that I have found
Tell the truth that I have found
No sheep are safe while they’re around!
No sheep are safe while they're around!

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