Gone are the days when a 50-0 slaughter of Munich was all but guaranteed. In recent years, their training and game tactics have improved drastically and a winning result is far less certain. With this in mind, on Friday, the Zurich International School Lion’s Varsity squad headed to Munich on Friday for their first game of the season.
Friday’s game started well. A Zurich kick-off saw the ball turned over to ZIS possession. It was sent flying down the offensive wing twice in quick succession and ZIS was eventually able to make a break and punch through MIS defense to put Zurich up by five points.
This explosive start could not be maintained however and hotheads saw Zurich’s first sin-binning. With just 14 players for ZIS, Munich managed to equalize with a try of their own, leaving the score at an even five all after the first whistle blew.
After a stern talking to by both coach and captain at half time, the Lions stepped up their game. In terms of physical size, Munich far outweighed Zurich, at least in the forwards, and they know how to use this to their advantage.
Zurich, still playing with 14 men thanks to another yellow card, were forced to adopt a split-forwards tactic, where pods of forwards resisted the temptation to join in the rucks and wait until the ball reached their end of the pitch. This tactic worked and allowed winger Eric Appelkvist (’16) to score twice in the top left corner of the pitch.
Zurich then managed to break through an MIS defense and score a final try which was converted by Back’s captain Sam McGough (’15), to drive the victory home. The final score was 22-5 in favour of Zurich.
This winning streak was not to last however. The next day, upon ZIS’ arrival at a sodden playing field, MIS was on-point.
A reshuffle in the forward tactics due to absence of #8 and Forward’s captain Will Tengtio (’15) created confusion and uncertainty in the pack. Despite Zurich taking an early lead, Munich’s aggression and determination put them up by 14 points to seven at half time.
In the second half, the Lions gritted their teeth and fought staunchly on. MIS took advantage of yet another Zurich yellow card and thanks to an admittedly brilliant blitz defense, MIS intercepted a Zurich pass to score in the corner.
Not deterred the Lions played on, not recoiling at Munich’s lead which was extended after a quickly taken penalty by MIS’ fly-half managed to toe the try line.
Kudos must go to Zurich scrum-half Cameron Grey (’17) who, in his first Varsity appearance, took on Munich players several times his own size. Taking advantage of a penalty awarded to Zurich on MIS’ five metre line, he charged an MIS defense who hadn’t the time to get on side. He was awarded a penalty try for his efforts. After this the final whistle blew with a 24-19 ZIS defeat.
The Lions headed home, humbled by the defeat but with new lessons learned. Every man who played on that pitch knows what he must do to prevent future defeats, and will bring that with him to the field on Saturday, when thirty bullies line up on Zurich’s very own pitch, in a first ever friendly against Lausanne.