Rugby Union: Malvern lap up atmosphere

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The Independent Online
Malvern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Old Hamptonians. . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

MALVERN indulged in a lap of honour round Twickenham - and then also waited for Hamptonians to complete theirs before ascending to receive the Pilkington Shield. Ian Beer, president of the Rugby Football Union, is not used to being kept hanging around like this, or at any rate he was not when headmaster of Harrow, writes Steve Bale.

Not withstanding the headmasterly president, the revelry of those who had laid on the hors- d'oeuvre to Saturday's main course was entirely understandable. The marriage between shield and cup is made in heaven and for players from North Midlands One and Middlesex One to tread the sacred turf on such a day is almost beyond imagining.

The next thing the RFU would like is an intermediate final to complete a club-day hat-trick, though there is no danger of Bonnie Tyler singing 'Abide With Me' as a Twickenham warm-up act. For now the teams themselves, junior as well as senior, will more than suffice.

The juniors are drawn from the nethermost reaches of the Courage Championship, but even at this level attitudes have changed beyond recognition. In their preparations for this final, Malvern had trained under Barrie Corless at Gloucester; Hamptonians had a coaching session with Dick Best of England, no less.

When Best was with Harlequins he kept an eye on nearby clubs such as Hamptonians, on one occasion inviting the prop Andy Glyn-Jones to training. He could go a long way, Best felt, but after turning up a few times the Glyn-Jones boy decided social rugby was more to his taste and remained a Glyn-Jones old boy.

This is not to say these teams do not take it seriously. Malvern, a place famed more for Elgar than rugger, even have a fitness adviser, their centre Rob James, a Welsh decathlon champion, and this aspect of their conditioning showed in their victory.

Thus although Old Hamptonians were more physical up front, particularly at the scrum, Malvern were considerably more skilful in keeping the ball moving. This showed in David Grundy's decisive try, created by the centre combination of James and Gareth Richards.

Grundy also kicked a penalty and the Welsh were involved again with Gareth Prichard's two penalties for the old boys. Prichard had a last- ditch chance to take the game for Hamptonians, but his unlikely penalty chance was from 50 yards and do or die. It died.

Malvern: Try Grundy; Penalty Grundy. Old Hamptonians: Penalties Prichard 2.

Malvern: S Fahey; D Grundy, G Richards, R James, A Johnson; D Green, G Henderson; S Cooper, P Morewood, C Campion, A McKelvie, A McBurney, S Dixon (D Blinstone, 77), A Ridley (capt), M Wolfe.

Old Hamptonians: S Eggleton; A Maclenan, G Prichard, S Fox, A Mills-Leggett; N Bugler, E Turnill; A Glyn-Jones, S Zander (capt), L Gallant, R Bowden, J Lumley-Kelly, M Carmody, N Cooke, J Clarke.

Referee: A Spreadbury (Bath).

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