<1R>Future Hope Harlequins managed to overturn a 10-point deficit to retain the Calcutta Cup last weekend. The game failed to be the feast of running rugby the large crowd were hoping for, but was full of tension and drama. Most of the drama came from the hosts, Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC) whose tactics were to slow the game down at every possible moment.
After taking a five point lead in the opening minute, CCFC looked to hold on to their advantage from then on. Slowly the multi coloured shirts of Future Hope Harlequins began to take control. Although up against a bigger pack, the hard work in training was beginning to pay off, with the scrum and lineout holding its own, while the exciting backline started to stretch the CCFC defence.
Totally against the run of play, CCFC benefited from an interception and an 80 metre foot race to the try line that resulted in giving them a 10-point lead. To the credit of the Future Hope youngsters, during the second quarter they played some of their most enterprising rugby of the season.
This enterprise was rewarded with a fine try from Indian 7s player Sk. Saidul, who ran in from 75 metres out after the Future Hope backs ran the ball from their own five metre line. With the conversion added, Future Hope were back in the game and perhaps should have scored two or three further tries, only for the final pass to let them down.
Now in control of proceedings, the Future Hope backs scored a second try this time through Bikash Mondal, who earlier in the season had trained with the Indian national squad. A second successful conversion meant Future Hope Harlequins led 14-10 at the break.
Future Hope added a penalty soon after the restart to stretch their lead to 17-10. However, the remainder of the second half offered little in terms of entertainment. At times, the game became farcical with stretchers and doctors on the field, as the match lost all its momentum. The Future Hope tackles certainly took their toll on their opposition, but neither team were able to add to their tally on the scoreboard.
So the final whistle meant Future Hope Harlequins had retained the Calcutta Cup. After any cup final, the celebrations were a mixture of relief and joy. However, this victory makes the whole Future Hope community feel a little bit better, in the continued journey from the streets to lifelong security. Rugby and Future Hope do make a difference, not just to the squad of 22 players but to all involved in the community.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.