On 20th February 2016, a tragedy befell the Royal School of Mines in the dark dingy depths of Falmouth. The Bottle was lost! In the midst of one of the biggest storms the south coast had ever seen, the RSM rugby players fell victim to the CSM scum in the muddy trenches. A year later in the leafy suburbs of Harlington a new mining outfit strode out to make battle, adorned in their new windstopper jackets #stash. It was time for the annual Bottle Match, the world’s 2nd oldest rugby varsity, to commence.

With both sidelines cheering and jeering the players on with effervescent merriment, the whistle sounded and Sam Moorby got us underway. After some strong defence from RSM in the opposition half, we were rewarded with the first penalty of the match and a chance for Moorby to put the Black and Gold in front, which he duly took. CSM pitched the ball high off the kick-off, RSM collected and kicked back deep to keep the pressure on the Cornishmen. More good defence resulted in a quick turnover and after some good phase-play from hard running forwards, James Field spread the ball wide to Dunning who skilfully drew his man and offloaded to Moorby to canter over unopposed on the left wing. Moorbs once again held his nerve with the boot to put us up by ten points. From the restart, which DNS collected in his usual over-the-head fashion, RSM kept up the same flowing and accurate style of play, rounding off several good phases with another penalty kick. Ten minutes gone and with a 13 point lead, the bottle seemed like it was on its way back to the capital. CSM, however, had other plans and came storming back straight from the kick off, piling the pressure on to the RSM forwards with good line speed and low tackles. From a turnover they worked it wide and with a slipped tackle, dived over the line to get themselves slightly back into the game. 13-8 to RSM. However, having their lead cut only seemed to spur the Londoners on. From the next scrum on the halfway line, and with a sizable blindside to attack, no. eight Zaboronsky took off in his usual sideways fashion and, ignoring calls for a pass from the wing, broke through three tackles before finally offloading to set Amato up with some clear air ahead of him and only one covering defender to beat. Using his quick feet and outrageous pace, he rounded the last man to dot down and restore RSM’s early dominance, to many cheers from the Black and Gold sideline. Moorby was once again impeccable from the tee, neatly bisecting the posts from near the touchline.

This try seemed to get under the skin of those in blue and yellow shirts, with a few scuffles erupting in the following minutes, which the ref calmed down with a severe scalding. There followed a mundane passage of play with both sides committing many errors and not being able to sustain enough pressure to trouble either defence. But, as if he had sensed the game needed sparking up, out of nowhere, a thumping dump tackle by Mike Wright landed a poor CSM player flat on his back and doubled over in pain. The ref, however, feared for the poor CSM player’s dignity in front of all of his mates, and showed Wright a yellow card for his excellent technique. But even being down to 14 men did not phase the RSM, as they fought back hard to get into the opposition 22. Blackett won a penalty after collecting a loose ball only to be tackled high, with the CSM attempted tackler having to be taken off for a blood replacement. Moorby easily tapped over the penalty from in front. Shortly after, CSM were dealt another blow with their captain having to be stretchered off with a broken leg, thus ending the first half five minutes early.

Both teams came flying out of the blocks for the second period with more big hits and outrageous steps. Everything was going RSM’s way though, as they got straight back into the opposition half and after some sustained pressure, once again we spun the ball wide and this time Moorby turned provider to put Captain Dunne (Ruairi Ruairi Dunne, Ruairi Dunne, Ruaaaairi Ruairi Dunne, nah nah nah nah nah) through for RSM’s third try of the match. CSM came back with another try through some offloads and a bit of luck from the bounce of the ball but Moorby gave us some more breathing room with two more penalties. With two minutes to go, the Cornishmen converted from a wide move off a lineout within our 22. However, shortly after the kick off they knocked on and Blackett sent the ball into the crowds to the sound of the whistle, kicking off the wild celebrations and pitch invasion. Dunne was hoisted onto shoulders to receive the bottle which he held aloft to triumphant cheers from the Black and Gold army. The crowd and players then returned to the union to place the bottle in its rightful place and celebrate their success. Final score RSM 36-19 CSM. The Bottle is home.