Brits put on rugby display for MCAGCC team

24 Oct 2002 | Cpl. Julie A. Paynter

Royal Marines from 40 Commando taught the Combat Center not to mess with the experts when they beat the U.S. Marines, 41-0, in a rugby match at Felix Field Oct. 16.

With the support of the Marine Corps Community Services, Combat Center rugby player Mike Fitzgerald coordinated with the Royal Marines and the base team to take part in the British sport similar to football or soccer, but played with a violent twist.

"The lads really enjoyed it," said Sgt. Rob McIntyre, physical training instructor, 40 Commando Royal Marines.  "They gave us a good game and we were hosted well afterwards with food and drinks."

"It's something different, playing someone from a different country," said Marine Carl Gilson, 40 Commando Royal Marines.  "I think they had six blokes who had never even played before."

Traditionally, the rugby is played for two 40-minute halves on a football-sized field, but due to the recreational nature of the match, the Oct. 16 game was played in three 20 minute periods.  Fifteen players on each team duked it out on the field by kicking, carrying, passing and grounding the ball to score.

"I always tell people that rugby is a hybrid between soccer and American football," said Charlie Lamont, Combat Center rugby team.  "If you understand both those sports, then you will have no problem understanding rugby.

"With the help of the veteran players the (new players) picked up the game very quickly," said Lamont. "One 1st Lieutenant of the Royal Commandos noted that rugby is the national sport of Wales and there were at least 12 Welshmen playing out there."

It had been five months since the base rugby team competed last, but they were still up to the challenge.

"We gave the Brits a good, hard-hitting physical match," said Scott Flagg, Combat Center rugby team.  "At one point we held them 10 meters from the try zone (or goal) through at least five or six phases of offensive plays."

"All in all, it was a great experience for the Marines of  Twentynine Palms," said Lamont.  "We can hold our heads high for a good match and start getting ready for the upcoming season.  Despite the score, the new guys are hooked and definitely want to join our base team and learn the game."

The base Rugby team practices every Tuesday at Victory Field from 6 to 8 p.m.  No experience is necessary to play.
"In my opinion, one of the best parts of rugby is the socializing after the game. You will hardly ever see this in any contact sport the world over," said Lamont.  "No matter how much you may hate and despise the players on the other team, when it's over; it's over. You socialize, sing songs and kick back with a beverage and talk about the game with them. It is truly one of the best parts about the sport.

The base team is currently working on making the match versus the Royal Marines an annual October event.

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