Exciting times… Wessex Wyverns' first full trip abroad and our first appearance in a major competition…
16 players, along with a small but hardy band of supporters, made their way to Brussels, the capital of Belgium, to be hosted as one of 24 European inclusive rugby teams. We had only existed for 10 months however we were to be placed in a competition with the oldest and best known gay teams in the world.
We arrived in dribs and drabs throughout the day, wandering the beautiful streets of Brussels but all eventually gravtitating towards the Square Conference centre to register and to meet the friends from other clubs we have made during our first season. Registration completed, we had some free time before the openening ceremony in the evening.
The ceremony involved speeches from luminaries of Gay Rugby and also of the host city. But then came the most important part of the evening… The draw for the groups stages of the competition!
Wyverns (And this is where we had to begin correcting people's pronunciantion… It's pronounced "Why-Vern") were drawn against top seeds Amsterdam Lowlanders and relative newcomers (but not as new as us!) Roma Libera. Our first game was to be at 09:00 the following morning, so an early night was called for and (eventually) happened after we had a brief stroll around the Brussels street affectionately known for the weekend as "Gay Street". After some herding of the team by the committee we got them into bed before daylight!
Here was where the fun really was to begin… The organisers had laid on buses to take us to the ground. But as our first game was at 09:00, our bus was scheduled for 07:00… A thoroughly uncivilised time for any self respecting rugby player. However, all the team were accounted for and all made the bus - in varying states of ability to walk straight lines.
The ground was a nice, large setup… Around 16 changing rooms mean we were sharing with chums from Bristol Bisons and Northampton Outlaws (Who had merged for the occasion to form the Bi-Laws). But we got there first, so marked our territory, changed and went out to warm up…
To be continued…
Picture by: Patrick Hughes