Farnham Vets earned an impressive 36-29 win against London Irish Exiles at their sumptuous Sunbury grounds last Saturday (January 28).
London Irish had gallantly braved December’s freezing cold and frozen pitches to journey down the A3 to play a game of touch in memory of the recently-departed Farnham Vets player Adrian Myers. Therefore, it was a privilege and pleasure to join the Exiles for a proper game.
The match, played in excellent spirits, ended with a narrow win for Farnham L’Escargots. Stand-in skipper Huy Le now has an enviable 100 per cent win record.
Irish had a strong pack and some big ball-carriers in their backs, so it took an overall team effort to craft the win.
Andrew ‘Superman’ Dailly was Farnham’s man of the match, countering the Exiles’ McCaw-like open side – with Graeme Black, Andy Stent and Adam Hewson all playing good supporting roles. With this platform provided by the forwards, the backs were able to distribute to their ‘gas men’ outside – with Ed Spooner, Max Wilson and Nick Purnell all to the fore.
What was perhaps most notable about the game, however, was that it marked that most joyous of rugby occasions; the coming of age when a parent can take to the field of battle with their offspring. With rugby being such an attritional game, it is unsurprising that few parents manage to stick it out long enough to achieve the feat.
Vets rugby allows sides to play a handful of under-35s and Farnham fielded father Nick Purnell and his two sons in this match. Son James ran the ball out from Farnham’s 22, before getting caught near the opposition’s 22. Here Purnell senior, well up in support, bridged to retain possession and allowed other son Tom to pick from the ruck and race in to score.
A superb day for the Purnell family, made all the more special as Nick had coached both James and Tom from the under-six age group – harking back to the Wrecclesham days.
Tom played for Surrey and was at Harlequins Academy before a whiplash injury put paid to his professional rugby aspirations.
Nick’s youngest, Archie, is aged 12. Nick – aged 50 – now must stick it out for another six years for Farnham to play a Purnell “four of a kind”.
Report: John Hartley