BARA Braves edge the Azzurri in South Leeds

The White Ribbon Trophy Match

BARA 30 – 24 Italy

BARA (the British Asian Rugby Association) came out winners in The White Ribbon Trophy match, beating the Italians 30 points to 24 at the South Leeds Stadium on Saturday (28 May 2016).

A hard fought and entertaining rugby league match, the game was never in one team’s hands, and even with BARA winning by 6 points, an even number of tries were scored by both teams. With the Azzurri leading by 6 points at the break, BARA made a 12 point turnaround, making it an incredibly exciting affair.

BARA v Italy

The game started well for the Italians with a try for Captain Alessandro Ippoliti before BARA even touched the football, with a storming run close to the line. It only took them two sets and made the scores stand at 4-0 to the visitors.

BARA regained possession from their kick off however, having a go at the Italians’ line before gifting them the ball through a mistake. The next chance near the try line came again for BARA, when a penalty took them to the Italia 20 metre line. And when quick hands left the opposition defence staggered, forward Sam Nichols took advantage, notching BARA’s first points of the game, making it 6-4 to the home side.

But their joy was short-lived when a strong set from the restart, where their strong forwards were utilized, took Italy into BARA’s half. Then, a skillful chip over the top following scrappy play from both sides made a try for the Italians. The try wasn’t converted meaning the score was to 8-6 to Italy.

Heavy collisions and scrappy play ensued for a short time from both teams, where it became clear Italy’s strength was in their big forwards who made crunching tackles and took the ball forward. And, when a while later they scored in similar fashion to their first try.

End to end rugby then followed, both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball while playing expansive rugby to no apparent avail. A cluster of chances came both ways, neither side seeming to be able to take them, before half time was called – the scores close at 12-6.

A much improved BARA rushed out of the blocks in the second half, with two strong runs before shipping the ball out wide to make a fantastic break for a try out wide. It was then superbly converted from the corner by Omar Mehdi, making it level at 12 apiece.

Soon afterwards, some inventive play to get the ball out wide gave Omar Alwari the chance to run towards the posts and over the line. That took the scores to 18-12. The match then opened up, both sides taking advantage of the fair weather – veering away from one man rugby. Soon after, with BARA close to the Italians’ line a chance to put the game to bed came, when a grubber kick was latched onto over the try line, only to be disallowed for offside.

The Azzurri then seemingly came to life, some strong drives putting them into position to dive over – once again levelling the score. However, the case of we score you score continued, a darting run by BARA hooker Daryl Gaunt taking the score to 24-18 to the side looking to get revenge over an earlier loss to the Italians.

Tries continued to come in when a few minutes later broken defence brought BARA’s Sam Nichols enough room to complete his brace. The effort was efficiently converted to take BARA 12 points to the good at 30-18.

However, the satisfaction of a two try cushion was temporary. First BARA winger Craig Boot was shown a red card, then Azzurri no. 7 Alessandro Corbucci pickpocketing an unsteady BARA player – to run half the length of the pitch for a try cutting BARA’s lead to 6 points – the score 30-24 to the British Asian Rugby Association.

A few sets for the two sides then unfolded before the whistle blew for full time. BARA were presented with the White Ribbon Trophy to cap off an enjoyable match, played by both teams in good spirit. The result made it one all in the series, this match following the one in Rome, where Italy came out winners in the first game between the teams.

A collection at the game raised over £150 for the White Ribbon charity, which raises awareness and campaigns against violence towards women.

Reporter’s Man of the Match: Sam Nichols scored two individual tries that was ultimately the difference between a win and a loss on the scoreboard.


This post was written by Nathan Kirk using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.