An Alternative View of IWRFC with O’Pinion – Sun. 29 Jan. 2017

An Alternative View of IWRFC with O’Pinion – Jan. 29 2017

O’Pinion is feeling delicate today after the rampaging success of the Brading Bros. cocktail evening at the club last night. There was something for everyone at this soiree – whether you were the more discerning cocktail connoisseur or simply wanted to get bladdered, all were catered for. O’Pinion saw himself as the former earlier in the evening, but edged toward the latter as the night went on. Reviews as follows: Cheeky Vimto – 9/10 – delicious. Club Colours – 2/10 – horrific. I forget the others. Anyway, well done to the Bradings and to all involved. It was fun.

Preceding this was the little matter of some rugby, and the visit of Farnborough to the Fortress. The first team’s form has been good of late; after a disappointing home loss to Heathens before Christmas, Chineham were accounted for on the road before Petersfield were given an almighty scare at their place last week. Farnborough are at the basement of Hampshire One and IWRFC were strong favourites to take the victory yesterday.

Which they did. It would be disrespectful to Farnborough to say that it was easy, and it wasn’t easy, but the Rangers never looked like losing and ran out 45-10 winners in the end. It should also be noted that the performance was sloppy at times, as opportunities were butchered and handling was sketchy. A chance to put up a bigger score perhaps, but it mattered little in the end, as the bonus point was secured early in the second half. We also need to be careful with the high tackles, which are clearly a hot topic at the moment and cost us plenty of penalties yesterday.

There were enough positives to please the spectators, though – the forwards were on top and defence was solid. Highlights? Mikey’s amazing solo try from halfway, of course – who knew how well he can sidestep and shimmy? Mikey setting up Zimby for another great score was pretty good too. Sam Spencer-Brading’s busy and aggressive performance at scrum-half never gave Farnborough a moment’s rest, and of course chairman Ollie nabbing the man of the match award with his customary ‘never a backward step’ showing. Captain and birthday boy Stirrup was on his game too, on and off the pitch. And all without Owen ‘El Paceo’ Herbert scoring! He’ll be in the seconds before long…

Unfortunately, the seconds were left without a game as Farnborough could not raise a second team. This was especially a shame as there were a host of (ahem) older players available to offer their experience and gnarliness to the sometimes callow youngsters. An invite to other Island clubs whose second team games had been cancelled to come along for a game was only taken up by one player (fair play to Matt), but the lads made the best of it and played 8 v 7 for half an hour or so. It would be wrong to omit that the old boys had the better of the exchanges, with ‘club legend’ Will Peters, Colman, Whitey, Browner, Willetts and others leaving their mark. Yet the youngsters learned a lot and were making their mark by the end. Hopefully much to take into next week’s fixture at Portsmouth.

This is a good season, with the potential for our highest league finish for about six years for the firsts. We lie sixth at the moment, which is exactly midtable, and it’s not impossible for us to climb a little further. A couple of tough games await in February, against title contenders Fordingbridge and New Milton. But as we have seen this season, when performance levels are where they should be, IWRFC can compete with any side in this division. Meanwhile, the seconds also inhabit midtable in Solent 3 and could go higher too, though as ever, much will depend on commitment and getting a more settled side out. O’Pinion is sad to see that fixtures have dried up a little for the 2s after a glut of action in the first half of the season, but hopefully this will change from next week on.

Now for a lie down. Being a Ranger is tremendous fun, but partying takes its toll on poor O’Pinion….