It began as an ambitious and beer-fuelled idea in a London tavern.
Yet against all odds it flourished, and on 1 March 2012, two heavyweights of UK wealth management locked horns in the City Slam rugby match at the Honorary Artillery Club to raise money for three charities: Claire’s House Children’s Hospice, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Oliver King Foundation.
On a beautiful spring day in the heart of London’s financial district, Ian Fielding of Rathbones got the game under way at 3:15pm. Brewin Dolphin replied with the first try of the game approximately one minute later. Speculation on the touchline was that this may have been the foundation for a rather one-sided game, with one spectator predicting it would be more of a cricket score than rugby one.
How wrong this proved to be. True, the first period of the match swung in favour of ‘The Dolphins’, with several ambitious phases resulting in a couple of line-breaks converting to tries, not helped by a somewhat sedentary defence from the Rathbones’ three-quarters. Within the first 16 minutes, the score was 24–0 to Brewin.
However, Rathbones dug deep and summoned the courage no doubt translated from that needed to deal with the turbulence of recent markets, and scored their first converted try in the 28th minute.
The match then entered an injury-dominated period where huge tackles from the more youthful players resulted in the battering of some of the more experienced. Rolling substitutes seemed to come in their hundreds but after a while, the fluidity of the game returned.
Half time saw the scores at 29 – 12 to Brewin, and the teams lined up for the final showdown. The following kick-off won the undisputed ‘champagne moment’ of the match:
Rathbones switched sides to catch Brewin napping, but they also caught referee David Clent too, directly in the face with the ball and he spent the next minute recovering on the ground. The second half was Rathbones’ for the first 15 minutes, where Brewin struggled to get out of their own half. It was on 56 minutes that St John’s Ambulance made its first of many appearances as a clash of heads saw Brewin’s fly half Matthew Casson leave early for the changing rooms after a stellar performance.
Rathbones took advantage of this with a last-chance inside slip-pass to score in the far left corner.
On 71 minutes, the stretcher was out again for another Brewin casualty, and 73 minutes in they returned to tend to the Brewin flanker who, unfortunately, had been floored by his own team mate in a busting double-team on a Rathbones winger.
Rathbones wasted no time in capitalising on the restart, where the sheer pace of their winger set up his hat-trick for the afternoon on 76 minutes.
The final whistle blew and the trophy was presented to victors Brewin Dolphin by the legendary Zinzan Brooke, the former All Black number eight. Though the second half was won 14-11 by Rathbones, Brewin Dolphin proved to be too strong in defence and thoroughly deserved their win. Most importantly, a great day was had by players and spectators alike, and the funds raised will go on to help the three charities represented.