On one of the wettest days of the year, the sun briefly broke through for some classic Barbarians style rugby on Friday night at Kingston Park, as Border Park RFC welcomed overseas visitors California State University Long Beach to the North-East. CSULB were on tour with Corbridge based Tour Operator Sky High Sports & were on stop-3 of a Bath, London, Newcastle & Edinburgh Tour.
In keeping with the Barbarian nature of the club, Border Park RFC drew in players from no fewer than eight clubs, with Border Park, Tynedale, Alnwick, Morpeth, Prudhoe & Stocksfield, Novocastrians, Blaydon, Percy Park and Barnard Castle all represented. The Kielder club are making a habit of fielding such teams as they continue their resurgence from the edge of oblivion just a few years ago.
The game provided both teams with an opportunity to test themselves on a pitch only seen from the stands or afar on television.
CSU Long Beach arrived in Newcastle having won their two previous touring games in the south of England. Firstly, Vs Wells RFC in Somerset, winning 31-40, then later in London at Streatham-Croydon RFC, winning 14-21. The match at Kingston Park was billed as the big-game from the outset, so the Americans arrived expecting a tough test.
The game was broken down in to three 30 minute games to allow for a large change over in personnel throughout the game, with many of the Border Park players either having their monthly run out of rugby, or players only recently returning to pre-season training. When looking at Long Beach warming up, the Border Park players knew the game was going to be no joke as the Long Beach lads looked fit and well up for the game.
A keenly contested game was played with over 50 players turning out for both teams to soak up the memorable occasion. Some good rugby was played with both teams running hard and having the ‘never say die’ attitude you’d expect from a team coming from overseas on tour and a home team not wanting to give an inch. The Long Beach 10,12,13 combination provided difficult to defeat all day, with Border Park having to get very creative and run some exceptional lines to break through the defence. The forward packs were quite evenly contested with scrums and lineouts providing good platforms for good running rugby. After all the rugby was played Border Park came out on top, running out 45-35 victors.
After the game both teams moved on to the Tap and Tackle bar where presentations were made to both teams as Long Beach University received a carved plaque to commemorate a great occasion, and Border Park receiving a plaque from the Long Beach University head coach. Man of the Match was number 7 Matthew Jenkinson, who terrorised the Long beach defence with his hard running and leg drive in the tackle.
Many thanks must go to Long Beach for coming and playing Border Park; a big thank you to Kingston Park for hosting such a match and providing great hospitality. Thank you to everyone who came down and watched the game and provided your support, it is greatly received by the club.