Last night my brother and I nipped down to the London Irish ground at Hazelwood in Sunbury-on-Thames for the last Premiership A League match of 2014. We’d been warned by the Quins website to arrive early because car parking at the ground was limited (that information was correct) and so – from 6.00pm until kick-off time at 7.30pm – filled in the time by chatting in the bar, drinking a couple of pints of Guinness and ordering plates of chicken curry & chips.
As regards team selections, I must apologise for not knowing more than two names in the home squad. Quins, however, had picked a strong side. Ugo Monye was making his return from injury at wing threequarter and it was good to see big Harry Sloan (a Junior World Cup winner with England Under-20 last season) back at centre. It was also my first look at Tito Tebaldi, our new signing last week, at scrum half.
There were about 500 spectators present for this floodlit game. I was impressed by the overall quality and sophistication of the facilities. As for the action, there was plenty of effort, huff & puff and shouting and loud “1-2-3-4!”s as the front rows engaged at scrum-time.
Half-time was reached with the score 7-12 to Quins (one try to two tries). We were superior in the scrum but otherwise the honours were – as the score suggests – pretty much even-stevens.
We then trudged over to the sole burger van beside the pitch. The floodlights suddenly went out as we stood in the queue to buy our cups of tea and coffee, as did the lights in the clubhouse – well, bar emergency ones.
This was a minor novelty to begin with, then a minor irritation as we waited … and waited.
Finally, after half an hour, the time approaching 9.00pm, we decided enough was enough, strolled to the carpark and drove home.
At 1.15am overnight I came to my computer and checked. The game was officially abandoned at half-time because of a floodlights failure – mind you, there had been no public pronouncements at the ground by the time we had chosen to bail out.
I have no idea what this means as regards the A League competition – do we play again, or just forget this game … and indeed the competition?
It’s certainly come to a rum pass when you’re charged £5 per head to watch a floodlit game of Premiership-organised A League rugby and the game gets abandoned because the lights went out! Our chirpy quips about London Irish not having enough money to feed the meter seemed moderately amusing on the way home last night, but less so this morning.