Aberdeen Exiles 46
Aberdeen Select 26
JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw
ABERDEEN EXILES were worthy eight tries to three winners in the traditional Boxing Day fixture which has graced Rubislaw since 1930, providing an appreciative holiday crowd with a feast of running rugby, while putting the threat of Covid in the shade, at least for the afternoon.
Jim Sugden, the match organiser was delighted to have been able to get the game played, given the fact that last year’s fixture had to be cancelled due to the restrictions created by the virus. “It was quite a challenge to get two teams together but well worth it after seeing the quality of rugby on show,” he said. “It’s a great tradition which was brought about by two homesick Aberdonians in London over 90 years ago. Long may it continue to flourish. I am just happy to be involved.”
The Exiles were superbly marshalled by stand-off Ruaridh Jackson, who orchestrated the win, with 33-times capped Scotland internationalist rolling back the years to his playing heyday in the early part of the century, and he was well supported by his free-running back division, in which three try Oli Nash excelled with his rapier like runs to which the Aberdeen Select had no answer.
And yet it was the home team who snatched the lead in 10 minutes when winger Craig Shepherd intercepted a stray pass to race over for a try converted by his Aberdeen Grammar team-mate Tom Aplin.
Thereafter, the Jackson masterclass kicked into gear, as the former Gordonian and Grammar player found his feet on his old stomping ground, enabling the Exiles to score four tries before half time to lead 29-7 and take total control of the game.
Not surprisingly, the Exiles eased back in the second half but were always dangerous on the break, especially with Blair Fraser and Rory McKay in charge of line out play.
The Select could claim to have won the second-half 19-17, scoring three tries, but in truth Jackson always had the upper hand when the chips were down, helping his side to add three more touchdowns as they eased to a comfortable victory.
Guy Gibson, the Select coach, conceded the best team had won, but said:”The game was played in the best possible spirit with some superbly created tries by both sides.”
The Exiles tries were scored by Andrew McInnes, Cameron Smith, Cameron Imrie, Ben Renton, Chris McIlroy and Nash . Jackson capped his return to the game with three conversions.
For the Select, Shepherd, Logan Bean of Aberdeenshire, and Ben Ingles and Doug Russell, both of Grammar, were on the mark. Aplin added three conversions, confirming his fine reputation as a place kicker.
Iain Stanger of Grammar, who was assisting Gibson in the Select corner, summed up the day when he said: “It was a great game of rugby, befitting a festive occasion.”