MatchPint win their first piece of Sporting Silverware (and a few pints...)!
Just over eight weeks ago, a call came into the MatchPint global headquarters:
‘Hi MatchPint! We’ve got a couple of questions for you. We’re looking for a couple of young, physically fit athletes to join our team in the upcoming Try Tag Rugby Spring League in Highbury – are you keen and available?’
‘Is the Pope a Catholic?’ came the straight-bat response.
‘Great! So you’re in. Next question – any ideas for a team name?
‘Well, obviously we’re just spinning some ideas here, but how about “MatchPint”?’
What ensued were the sort of hard-ball negotiations that have been missing from the Anfield boardroom for a decade now… Upshot? The team name was confirmed on the condition that we had a kit for the tournament.
Out of the ashes of team Aguilera, the MatchPint Try Tag Rugby team was born in early March 2012.
Things didn’t exactly get off to a great start (or, did they – cue film-villain mwah ha ha ha-type laugh). The basic premise for the competition is that instead of tackling the opposition to the ground and biting their elbows clean off like a real man, players tackle each other by ripping off one of two fluorescent tags velcroed onto their shorts by the hip. The rest of it is all pretty standard if you’re familiar with the way that gangs north of Birmingham choose to resolve territory disputes (i.e. a game of Ruggers League). The game is six-a-side, mixed sex – three girls and three guys – and like all goods things, plays positive discrimination to a tee in awarding chicks two points for a try instead of one.
So, when we turned up for the first round of matches with three prop forwards, a second row and a solitary (though physically fit) girl, serious questions were asked about the whole bloody venture. Our opposition – Corklin – looked a hard bunch. One of them was wearing some fancy green shorts (which we later came to understand to mean he was a previous ‘Player of the Tournament’). Due to a disproportionate number of MatchPint willies on the pitch, Corklin’s girls were awarded three points for a try, whilst we had to settle for one. We got hammered – 21-10.
Luckily for us, however, we later discovered that round one was merely a seeding round, and that our dismal showing had placed us firmly in the ‘Social League’ where side-steps and lines of running were about as prevalent as a genuine Dider Drogba injury.
And so to the tournament proper… For reasons completely unknown to ourselves, MatchPint smashed it in the first game, running out 16-3 winners over the French outfit “Oh La La’. The propensity of two MatchPint players to grab hold of tags, and keep hold of the players proved invaluable as the comp went on what with the Oh La La girls deputizing when we continued to be woefully short on numbers…
Round two was perhaps the lowest point of the show for MP. Leading 8-1 five minutes into the second half, we contrived to draw 10-10. This result just happened (by complete and utter coincidence) to coincide with the company dog-walker’s first game for the club. Let’s just say he was a little more mad-dog, than cool, rational-walker in the second half.
After chewing the fat (both over our performance and off the free chicken provided after the games by Phibbers Sports Pub), we locked-ourselves in to a tighter, more calculated game plan for the following week – making sure we had the right number of players being top of that priority list. Despite being down at half-time, a late flurry from our secret weapon on the day (a late-transfer in from France) saw us run out 12-11 winners.
A win in the penultimate game against Mandeville would ensure our progression to the Grand Final, regardless of any following results. It was a tight-battle between the teams placed second and third in the table. With our captain away and finding ourselves 8-4 down at half-time, the second-half recovery was magnificent (the two brother-axis in the heart of the pitch discovering that positive communication can be beneficial at times). There were so many switches and loops flying around the place that the game could have been taking place in a GCSE Physics lab. Indeed, the ref commented after the game: ‘Awesome attack in the second half guys – you really got how to play the game!’
‘What about our defence?’ we asked. ‘Like I said, awesome attack in the second half guys…’
No sooner had the whole thing started than we were playing the last game of the league - first versus second. We knew a bit about the opponents given they were the very same Corklin we faced in the seeding round. Wary of the threat they carried (and with our stand-off away on a jaunt in the Peruvian mountains), we had to find a replacement, fast.
After some very clear and completely sober discussions, we acquired a former Welsh rugby bruiser and two girls with close ties to the group... Unfortunately, Corklin seemed to be missing a couple of key players and the game ended up a slight anti-climax. Though we won 12-5 to finish top of the league, we knew that the grand final against the same opponents a week on would be tougher.
With the dog-walker indisposed to drink (serving them we hoped), MatchPint brought in someone with a lot of Chat to marshal the troops in the final. The game, against opponents we had come to know well, was closely fought even if, at times, it got quite physical prompting concern that we had to play without our resident doctor. But some great diving around from MatchPint’s CEO and the ever-reliable try scoring of the windmill on the wing gave us the upper hand all game.
Inevitably, a couple of jugs followed in Phibbers before the award presentation which perhaps had an effect on el Capitano’s shouts of ‘Download the App’ in his (unnecessary) acceptance speech. He did have the honour, however, of being awarded MOTM for the final and consolation was had for Corklin as their own captain was awarded player of the tournament.
All in all, a successful debut season for MatchPint, in large part down to the physically fit nature of the players and their superb second half performances (no hint of irony whatsoever). The only problem now, is that we face promotion to the A League which, unfortunately, promises to be a little more ‘Match’ than ‘Pint’.
Try Tag Rugby was brought to the UK in 2009 by Phil Browne and Alistair Davis. Try Tag Rugby pride themselves on being able to help people get fit and have fun in a friendly, welcoming and social environment. There are over 20 leagues across 11 different venues in London. If you’re interested in getting involved in one of London’s fastest growing sports, please visit www.trytagrugby.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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