Bank holiday weekend brought a French touring rugby team, Rugby Club Romanais Peageois (RCRP) to East Grinstead Rugby Club (EGRFC) from its twin town of Bourg-de-Péage. They arrived via train on the Saturday, 5 May, where they were met by the tour organisers. On their arrival they took the short walk from the train station to the Open Arms to sample some traditional English beers. From there they then continued on to the Dorset Arms where the touring team were introduced to their hosts.
Sunday morning was match day and both teams met at EGRFC. After a reception by the Mayor, where gifts between the two towns were exchanged, the teams prepared themselves for the match.
The game kicked off at 2.30pm, after the two national anthems were performed with must excitement and voice! It was clear that any entent cordiale previously evident would be put on hold for the next 80 minutes. The game was played in great spirit and was nip and tuck for the duration of the game, some staunch defence in the midfield preventing RCRP from building momentum. EGRFC finally pulled away in the last quarter to finish victorious at 29 – 17. The try scorers for EGRFC were Jake Radcliffe (3) James Stokes and Matt Marriott, and for the French Leo Plunian (2) who ran with typical Gallic flair all afternoon, and Raf Jassoud. With a slight difference in the laws the two teams were used to, the game was refereed in the spirit of the tour by club president Andy Poole. Man of the match was awarded to Henry Webster for EGRFC, and Leo Plunian for RCRP.
After the game the French were treated to Boeuf Bourguignon and enjoyed the music of local band XL: Live.
Monday was an early start as the tourists all boarded the train to London Victoria for a day in the capital. They arrived outside Buckingham Palace just in time to witness the changing of the guard and from there made their way to Camden. After scouring Camden Market for souvenirs the party returned again to EGRFC in Saint Hill where they enjoyed a barbeque in the (untypically English) bank holiday sunshine.
The tour came to an end on Tuesday morning as the French boarded the train back to London Victoria and onward to Bourg-de-Péage.
With bonds between the two teams strengthened over the weekend it looks as though this could be a fixture in the EGRFC calendar for some years to come, with EGRFC looking to make the return trip to Bourg-de-Péage next year.
EGRFC would like to thank everyone involved in the tour and to all those spectators who made the day so special. It was wonderful to see the East Grinstead community out in force!
Updated 19:05 - 11 May 2018 by Milly O'Ryan-Bristow