GHA IN THE USA

GHA IN THE USA

On Friday the 18th June, a GHA squad consisting of 17, 1st and 2nd team players embarked on a short tour to California. They played two fixtures against two of America’s most famous clubs.

First, they took on the Santa Monica Rugby Club of Los Angeles where they met up with former HA and GHA lock, John Mundell. Santa Monica is also the home club of Augustin Baldioli, most will remember him as ‘Oggy’ the big hairy prop who played for us during the 2006/07 season. Santa Monica are a perennial powerhouse of American rugby and since their foundation in 1972, they have seen no fewer than 20 players go on to play for the US National Team, 3 of which were to captain their country.

The second game was against San Francisco Golden Gate, the 2009 US National Champions and 2010 runners-up. SFGG are a club with a not too dissimilar history to GHA, having been formed in 2001 with the merger of two former foes and with the ambition of creating a club capable of competing at the top level in American rugby. With 1 win and 3 runner-up awards in the last 4 US National Championships, they haven’t done too badly.

 

2010: Summer Tour – Match 1 (19/06/2010)

SANTA MONICA RFC 

14 – 57

 GHA RFC

GHA Team:
15
R. McClymont
1
J. Low
16
G. Adams
14
R. Jericevich
2
C. Landsburgh
13
N. Cassie ©
3
J. Willock
12
C. Binnie
4
P. MacLeod
11
S. Weir
5
R. Jenkins
10
J. Noonan
6
B. Farrell
 
 
9
S. Keenan
7
J. Pinder
 
 
 
8
D. Kellock
 
 

 

With the previous day’s flight/night still heavy in the legs, GHA were slow to get going in the LA heat and an error strewn first half ended 14-12 to the hosts. GHA squandered chance after chance with “slippery hands due to the pre-game application of tanning oil” being the most original excuse.

The second half saw Santa Monica’s former GHA and HA lock Johnnie Mundell switch to the green and red. Logic would say that this change made all of the difference, however I don’t wish to give him that much credit as I’m sure he’ll do that himself. GHA in general played with a lot more structure and the backs began to dominate as Santa Monica faltered. Johnnie scored two excellent tries, one for each side and gave away a host of penalties throughout with his own unique interpretation of the rules (some things never change!). Indeed, after entering a ruck from the side for the umpteenth time, GHA skipper Niall Cassie was forced to take action – “Johnnie, want to stop stitching us up mate!”

The match in general was played in great humour, right down to the referee’s Cartha strip which did him no favours when it came to taking flak from the boys. GHA scored 9 tries in total, the best of which was a long range effort which included some great interplay up the left hand side before Gordon Adams finished in the corner from 40 metres out.

After the match, the team’s moved on to O’Brien’s Pub in Santa Monica.

As reported on the Santa Monica website:

“GHA showed great touring attitudes by showing up in their traditional garb, followed by arguments on the quality of their tartan and tall tales to local women about the process of farming Haggis to produce enough fur for their sporran.

GHA skipper Niall Cassie presented SMRC with a plaque to commemorate the game, as well as a bottle of fine Scottish whisky which was shared by all for the remainder of the evening.”

All in all it was a fantastic day and night and GHA are extremely grateful to the hospitality provided by their hosts and the staff at O’Brien’s.

 

2010: Summer Tour – Match 2 (26/06/2010)

SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE RFC 

7 – 35

 GHA RFC

GHA Team:
15
R. McClymont
1
J. Low
16
S. Weir
14
N. Cassie ©
2
C. Landsburgh
13
R. Jericevich
3
D. Kellock
12
C. Binnie
4
J. Willock
11
G. Adams
5
R. Jenkins
10
J. Noonan
6
B. Farrell
 
 
9
S. Keenan
7
P. MacLeod
 
 
 
8
D. Kellock
 
 

 

The second game of the tour was an altogether different affair. SFGG were fresh off the back of a runners-up medal in the US National Championship. Although SFGG weren’t at full strength for this game, GHA knew they were in for a tough game. Cue one of the most exciting and committed performances seen from a GHA side for many a year.

GHA’s mobile forward pack, which contained 3 teenagers, dominated throughout. Jamie Pinder, Ben Farrell and Dominic Kellock won several turnovers throughout whilst Ryan Jenkins, Josh Low, Paul MacLeod and Chris Landsburgh had excellent games in the loose. But perhaps the performance of the day came from GHA’s “senior” forward John Willock, who led from the front and put in some telling tackles, particularly in the second half when SFGG put the GHA defence under concerted pressure.

The game opened at a blistering speed with GHA retaining the ball for a full 5 minutes, working the ball up the field into the SFGG 22. Quick ball close to the posts was spun wide for winger Niall Cassie to score in the right corner.

GHA maintained this tempo and Cassie was unlucky not to score his second try when his chip and chase went slightly too long as he chased it into the same corner. GHA centre Rangi Jericevich left the field with a shoulder injury midway through the first half which forced a reshuffle in the backline. Scott Weir came on to the left wing, Ross McClymont stepped into the centre from full back whilst Gordon Adams shuffled from wing to full back. GHA eventually got a deserved second try when another quick ball in the mid field was spread wide to Weir who showed great pace as he rounded the SFGG cover defense to score under the sticks.

Shortly afterwards and from a similar position in the midfield, the ball was again spun wide and this time Ryan Jenkins came back on the angle and cut through the SFGG defensive line before accelerating in for the score from a good 30 metres. Jim Noonan landed all 3 conversions to make the score 21-0 at the half.

The second period saw the home side show great commitment as they came back into it. Despite a heroic defensive effort from GHA, SFGG eventually got a deserved score from close quarters as their lock went for the quick pick and go off of a ruck.

This was to be GHA’s day though. Niall Cassie restored GHA’s advantage with a scything run from 40 metres out after fielding a wayward SFGG kick. Jenkins then score his second try 5 minutes from time after cutting another great angle off of a trademark Jim Noonan shimmy which tied in two defenders. Noonan converted both second half tries to give a final score of 35-7.

The post match hospitality was yet again fantastic. Great food and beer was laid on by SFGG and GHA were privileged to have played at one of America’s leading rugby facilities. A special thanks must also go to SFGG coach Paul Keeler and player Michael Walker who were fantastic hosts.

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