Rugby: Penguins v Guy's Hospital Present XV (The Scanlan Cup)
Saturday 27th April 2019
Paul Scanlan played for Guy's 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th XVs from 1984 to 1993 and was a founder member of the Penguins XV.
He was 1st XV Vice-Captain, Student XV Captain and a GHRFC Vice-President.
He qualified in 1989 and was the first of his year to achieve Consultant status, as an orthodontist working in SE London and Kent.
His irrepressible humour, energy and zest for living were tragically curtailed by an acute illness which rapidly took his life.
He remains sorely missed and is remembered by the annual Penguins v Guy's Present XV match played for the Scanlan Cup.
Portrait painting of Paul Scanlan, which hangs currently on the wall of the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, at the entrance
to the Paul Scanlan Orthodontic Suite.
The PAC President awards the Scanlan Cup to the victorious Penguins
The 2019 Cup Match Write-Up
It was with a sense of impending doom that your correspondent made his way to HOP for this year’s Past vs Present match. A sense of foreboding brought about by having to face the current United Hospitals’ Cup holders with a lack of some of the ‘Big Guns’ of the Penguins extended squad.
Indeed, with only 9 of the ‘regular’ Penguins available and a whole team’s worth of players at Ikea, doing the big shop, working or otherwise unavailable, there was a distinct chance in the week leading up to the game that the match may be over before it even started. As the Recent Past were similarly challenged by player availability we agreed to pool our resources and form a ‘Penguins All Stars’ squad and what a squad it turned out to be!
The forecasted rain held off and although blustery, the conditions were encouraging of a hard running game and that’s exactly what both teams brought. The touchline was peppered with supporters both young and old and these Guy’s Rugby aficionados were treated to a real showcase of the traditional GHRFC “champagne” style.
Kick-off was preceded by a reminder of the provenance of the Scanlan Cup and the great man for whom it is named, and a minute’s silence was held in Paul’s memory.
The Penguins won the toss and opted to play into the wind for the first half and received the kick-off from the students who were wearing their jerseys inside-out to prevent confusion. A clean catch saw the Penguins play a couple of phases through their larger pack and with some good off-loading among the backs, and interplay between backs and forwards put Rob Hone in position to steamroller in from 20 yards out with students falling aside like skittles (the ten-pin kind, not the sweets), a situation that was to be repeated multiple times through the match.
The students’ spirit and enterprise was tempered by the ethanol still circulating round their system and despite having a few years and in some cases a few decades (Shay Reading) on their counterparts the Penguins enjoyed an ascendant first half. There was a real sense of togetherness with this scratch side and, at times, with phase-after-phase of strong forward play and deft backline moves, we looked like a team that had been playing together for several seasons rather than only several minutes.
The students, although fleeter of foot, struggled with the physicality of some of the Penguins’ tackling and rucking, although the Penguins were somewhat undone by a lack of knowledge on the updated laws governing the breakdown. The referee was understanding but unsympathetic and the students were able to win some crucial turn-over ball, although failed to convert this to points.
Daniel-Clement Osei-Bordom made some strong carries and after one-line break found himself alone in green fields with no one opposing him, but he wasn’t dead and cantered gleefully down the pitch to score under the posts.
Rob Hone continued his battering-ram approach to the game and managed a further 3 scores before the game was done.
Further tries came from a mercurial back line which benefitted from the clever distribution of hooker-cum-scrum-half Rauri Hadlington, who made a few snipes towards the line but couldn’t quite get over the whitewash. Amongst those crossing from the backs were Tom Fenner and Alex Gerard who also converted his own try.
Despite not getting involved in the scoring Shay Reading made strong runs and carries belying his years of ‘experience’ and in the forwards Iain Wilson, Oli Laird and Ed Shepard all contributed to the momentum of the pack with Ed even managing a chip-and-chase which agonisingly failed to get him the space he needed to score.
In the lineouts our go-to man Arjun Desai ensured the Penguins kept hold of the ball and put pressure on the students too, forcing them into errors a number of times.
The match wasn’t quite as one-sided as it may sound, with the students looking threatening when they did secure the ball, but due to a combination of fierce Penguin defence, unforced student errors and the previous night’s revelries they were only able to score thrice with one conversion.
The two stand-out moments for the Penguins came towards the end of the second half: The first was Club President Mr Ben Challacombe taking to the field to show the students that he could not only “talk the talk” but that he could also score a try and then convert it himself, to everyone’s amazement (his most of all), and second, five minutes from time, when Chris Howell took to the field once again at the ripe old age of 175 years old (coincidentally the same age as the club itself this season!) to pack down against his opposite prop, whose grandparents were only a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when he first started at Guy’s!
The final score of 57-17 was well earned by both sides and the Scanlan Cup was presented to the Penguins Captain once again, to the appreciation of the gathered throng (his children, 8 and 6 years, and hopefully future Guy’s players included).
Afterwards beer was drunk, tales told and retold, and memories made and then promptly wiped out by alcohol at that evening’s Ball.
On a personal note, I would like to offer my thanks to everyone I have had the privilege to play with and lead over the past two years, which have been some of the best of my rugby career. The win at the Jersey Veterans Tournament in 2017 in front of a huge crowd, including my family and kids, was a particular highlight.
I wish Ed Shepard as incoming Penguins’ Captain the best of luck and hope he can live up to my captaining record: played 19, won 18, lost 1!
Jamie Jackson (Capt)
For more match photos, click here