On New Years day Andre shouted me to an afternoon of rugby. The local team – the Bedford Blues – were playing the Cornish Pirates at the home of rugby in Bedford, Goldington Park. Capacity about 5,000 max.
The team is in the English RFU Championship league and has, in the past, had the opportunity to be promoted to the English Premiership league. But the need to build a new, larger stadium to be part of the Premiership league has been a hurdle the club is yet to overcome.
England has a reputation for pretty dour, ‘ten man’ rugby and on a dark, rainy afternoon that reputation didn’t seem likely to be under threat. After grabbing a beer in the bar Andre, his work-mate Neil, Neil’s two boys and yours truly took our (thankfully covered) seats for the game.
In the first 40 minutes the rugby was anything but dour. Open running rugby was the name of the game with end to end movement and some pretty slick backline work. By half time the local team was ahead 29 to 8. The second half was quieter and those niggling errors brought on by a wet ball and slippery conditions underfoot started to creep in but the local team kept their cool and ran out eventual winners by 32 – 13.
All in all a very enjoyable game. The disconcerting thing was that by the time the game finished at 4:30pm it had been dark for some time. Summer in Italy seemed a long, long time ago.