Oti suffers Nigerian nightmare

David Llewellyn sees pride dented by Ignatians in the Pilkington Shield
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The Independent Online
London Nigerian arrived at Enfield for their Pilkington Shield fourth-round tie carrying a reputation for exotic sunshine rugby with which they have carried all before them on an impressive charge through the four Middlesex divisions of the Courage League.

Last year in a league match they stuck 50-odd points on this same Ignatians club and the expectations were that the Middlesex Division One leaders would repeat the feat and put the unbeaten Second Division table-toppers in their place.

Ignatians, and in particular their captain, Phil Sanders, had other ideas. Tackling like tigers and mauling like lions, Ignatians asserted themselves and never let their opponents into the game, eventually emerging 17-3 winners.

If No 8 Sanders and his back-row colleagues John Strutt and Tom Fenn were the chisels, the rest of the Ignatians pack was the hammer, making deep cuts in the Nigerian defence. It was not just a defeat, it was a savage lesson in rugby schooling.

Nigerian's players at one stage even resorted to bickering with each other, flinging the blame around in much the same way as they should have used the ball. At the end they were shocked, shattered and ashamed. A club which is open in style and open to all, despite its name, (witness their Hungarian hooker, Peter Korniczky, and their English lock, David Baxter) is also open by nature and players were trampled in the rush to take the blame.

They are coached by Chris Oti, and the former England and Wasps wing was rendered almost speechless by the inept display which made a mockery of their ambition to reach the national leagues in the next 10 years. Nigerians, founded in 1991, share facilities with Hendon, but want their own place; however, to obtain all that they need cash.

Oti had said before the start: "We know we cannot attract sponsorship and the financial input and resources we need unless we are successful. That's why we need to win the League and the Shield."

The double was a realistic aim, on paper, but on the dog-fouled municipal pitch that is Ignatians' patch, their aim was very definitely off.

Enfield Ignatians: Try Eldridge; Penalties Cook 4. London Nigerian: Penalty Idowu.

Enfield Ignatians: N Browne; P Tiernan, J Mullan, P Eldridge, D Palenski; A Cook, M Piper; M Dean, S Taylor, P Pearce, F Moll, C Roche, J Strutt, T Fenn, P Sanders (capt).

London Nigerian: T Essien; M Oti, J Smalley, O Aiyegbusi, C Nwokedi; C Idowu, B Akin-Olugbemi (O Afuwape, 56-59); E Sideso (capt), P Korniczky, A Aiyegbusi, C Dozie (B Kehinde, 75), D Baxter, B Amadi, D Essien, A Oyesiki.

Referee: L Niewenhuis (Colchester).