Latvians show class in rugby friendly

  • 2001-05-03
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Tallinn Hippodrome sports ground became the venue for a friendly match between the Riga Butchers and Maidenhead, Britain. The Brits beat the Latvians in a tense but well-balanced game, with a final score of 24 to 22, under a cloudy Estonian sky on Saturday, April 28.

Geoff Cowens, Maidenhead's coach, said his team was in Latvia two years ago and the result was just as close. "We won 16 to 15 that time," said Cowens.

The Englishmen showed perfect, aggressive play in the first half and got their first try in under 10 minutes. The Latvians, however, got themselves together by the second half and were even leading for the first part. The Latvian pressure did not last long, though, and the older and more experienced Maidenhead side won another tough victory.

Maidenhead is an amateur team playing in the Southwest Division of the U.K. rugby championship. The Riga Butchers play in the national league. Both teams came to Tallinn for the first time.

As for the teams' support, the stands were close to empty. A small group of Latvian fans journeyed across the border to back their team. They periodically shouted "Latvia - uzvara!" (Latvia - victory!), while the English team's managers yelled "Spin it, boys!" and sometimes more idiomatic British expressions.

This weekend it will be the turn of the Estonians, who will play against a French team in Tallinn.