On Friday afternoon, seventeen well-dressed rugby players boarded the fast train from Hauptbahnhof to Gare-de-Lyon. We had been invited by the British School of Paris to play a game before next week’s ISSTs, giving both teams a chance to warm up before the big tournament. A gambling man would have put safe money on BSP. After all, they’re a division one side, and ZIS is four months out of season, but the Lions were up to the challenge.
Although it wasn’t raining when we reached the pitch, it was more mud than grass. There were even a few puddles in the middle of the field. As this was essentially a warm up game, the coaches agreed to blend a training session in with the match. The first twenty minutes would be spent in a controlled scrimmage, where each breakdown of play would result in a scrum or lineout, and possession would always be returned to the offensive side. There were a few new players on each side, so it was a great opportunity to get the positions sorted out. The play was muddy and tough, but both sides settled into their roles and ZIS put up a good show for BSP.
Then training time was over and the real game began, where it quickly became apparent that Zurich was outmatched. BSP’s ability to shift the bulk of their players from one wing to the other in a seemingly seamless manner caught ZIS short on more than one occasion. That, combined with the shoe-sucking conditions of the central pitch, put ZIS down by 26 points to nil after fifteen minutes.
After that shaky start there was a glorious reprieve when, after a well-controlled scrum, the ball sailed down to Zurich winger and soccer team convert Marcus Schulze (’14), who out ran the BSP defence and slid over the line, touching the ball down to bring Zurich a much needed five points.
The comeback was short lived however, and BSP once again combined their quick switching techniques with a physical aggression that ZIS was lacking to once again break Zurich’s defence.
In the last few minutes of play, after a break away run from Nic Clarke (’14) it looked as though Zurich might once again pull back some face saving points, but his efforts ultimately proved disastrous for both the score and next week’s ISSTs when a particularly bad tackle resulted in Clarke receiving a broken wrist.
The game ended in the Lion’s first defeat of the year. The final score was BSP 39 : 5 ZIS.