The Alleynian, December 1920


Dulwich College v. Merchant Taylors.

Played at Dulwich. Result: Dulwich, 3 goals 2 tries; Merchant Taylors, 1 try.

Coming as it does first on the list of the Inter-School games, the Merchant Taylors match is always one of the most interesting of the season. It is the first real chance one has—especially nowadays, when the “A” teams of the clubs are above their normal strength—of forming an estimate of the capabilities of the School side. As Merchant Taylors had seven old Colours from the side that beat us last year, including four of the forwards, the result is encouraging; and the most satisfactory thing of all is the discovery that our left wing, supposed to be the weakest spot, is almost as good as the right at attack and just as good, if not better, at defence. Against Merchant Taylors Cazalet and Robottom were the life and soul of the party; and, cheery old beans as many of the others showed themselves, the one individual to write home about was undoubtedly Robottom, who made a triumphant début, scoring two fine tries and tackling in superlative style. He runs beautifully straight, slower than but rather in the style of L. W. Franklin, and has a powerful hand-off; and he never stopped trying till he was on the ground with one or more bronzed athletes sitting on his head. A stout fellow.

The play for the first ten minutes was very level. Merchant Taylors kicked off towards the Boarding Houses, and for a while the game remained near half-way. The Merchant Taylors’ fly-half showed a pleasing tendency to kick instead of opening up the game, and this hurt their attack. But, having an advantage forward, they were always dangerous, till Hill, who played splendidly all through, headed a rush to their twenty-five. We pressed for a few minutes, but the Merchant Taylors forwards brought the ball back, and from near half-way one of their centres found touch on our line with a great kick. Robottom here made the first of a series of fine tackles, and a long punt by Murtrie relieved the pressure, Cazalet following this up with another which found touch in the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. The ball came back to near half-way, where Bryant did some good work in the loose. From a scrum the ball came out to Thomas, who unfortunately hung on to it a second too long, thereby depriving Addison of a good chance. Hill broke through, but the Merchant Taylors forwards, a very able lot, rushed right to our line, where Addison at the risk of his young and valuable life hurled himself at their feet and saved a probable try. The danger only lasted a moment or two; for Joubert, with the coolness that comes of advanced years and a lot of experience of this sort of thing, picked up and found touch near half-way with a very neat and effective kick. Addison, unable to get round, punted into touch near the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five line. The three-quarters got on the move, Robottom, after a strong run, being tackled not far from the line. (Let us have no secrets from our readers—it was about twenty yards from the line.) A minute later Cazalet did his big single act. Tackled while trying to cut through, he somehow managed to get on his feet again and at the same time kick on—the whole performance rather like a Swedish exercise—and, following up rapidly, reached the back before he could gather, kicked over the line, and won the race for the ball by a few feet. An excellent try, near the corner flag. Joubert failed with the kick. The time was now 3.22, just twelve minutes after the kick-off. Dulwich 3.

We did not keep our lead long. After some play near half-way, the Merchant Taylors forwards came away to our twenty-five: their three-quarters got moving, and Canby, with what looked from the other side of the field an extremely clever run very near to the touch-line all the way, scored in the corner punctually at 3.25. The kick failed. Dulwich, 3; Merchant Taylors, 3.

One’s impressions of the game at this point were that Merchant Taylors had an advantage forward, slight in the loose, but rather marked when it came to getting the ball and heeling, and that this led to Kempson’s activities being rather squashed by the opposing scrum-half. On the other hand, our three-quarters seemed more dangerous.

We pressed after the game began again, Hill tackling the Merchant Taylors’ back before he could get in his kick. Addison got to the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. Roberts was good out of touch. Cazalet and Robottom started a well-meant movement on the left, which ended in Cazalet kicking over the line and Merchant Taylors touching down. After the drop-out the Merchant Taylors forwards worked hard, and for a while the ball was near our line, till Bryant dribbled nearly to half-way, and a great kick by Addison found touch in the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. Here Murtrie was almost through, but the Merchant Taylors forwards came back to half-way. Hill, Cazalet, and Robottom took the ball to the Merchant Taylors’ line. It was rushed back to thirty yards, but Joubert, with another well-judged kick, found touch on the line again. Scrums followed in the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five, until Hill, dribbling through, by bad luck kicked into touch in goal.

The next item of interest was the best kick of the day, by one of the Merchant Taylors centres. It found touch on our line, but the situation was saved by Meston, who picked up and broke right through to the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. There was some scrummaging, which took the game to half-way, and here Kempson, whipping the ball neatly out to Murtrie, set our three-quarters going. Cazalet made a good opening for Robottom about thirty-five yards from the line, and Robottom, handing off his wing and dodging the back, scored a fine try behind the posts, which Joubert converted. Time, 3.44. Dulwich, 8; Merchant Taylors, 3. Shortly after this the whistle blew for half-time.

The play that followed between the kick-off and our next try was very exciting, and proved once again the great football truth that it is the points which count, and that you may have all the game but if you don’t score you don’t score. We were not watching the Merchant Taylors team during the interval, but apparently they had had monkey-glands grafted on them or something, for they started off like two-year-olds. Their forwards worked like beavers, and their outsides did everything but score. This was to a great extent due to the sturdy tackling of Addison and Robottom on the wings. They favoured different styles. Addison generally got his man by the neck, churned him about a bit, and finally threw him into touch. Robottom went for his little playmates’ legs. Both methods were equally effective, and we retained our lead. The only time when we attacked ourselves was when Murtrie cut through and passed to Roberts, who reached the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. The Merchant Taylors forwards rushed back. Addison tackled his wing after the latter had got three yards’ start—a notable effort. Robottom stopped an attack on the other wing. And then Merchant Taylors failed to score from a free kick, given in our twenty-five, and this was the turning-point of the game. Directly after the drop-out Merchant Taylors seemed to slacken, and we came back in great style, the process being started by a long dribble by Kempson. Murtrie got through nicely, and passed to Addison, who kicked across. The ball reached Joubert, who only just failed to drop a goal from a long way out. Shortly after this Murtrie and Addison got away again, but Addison’s punt went just too far, and Merchant Taylors touched down.

Robottom ran to the line. There was a scrum ten yards out. Our forwards heeled well, and Kempson got the ball away quickly to Murtrie. Murtrie handed on to Thomas, who cut through and over near the corner-flag. A very judicious piece of work. Time, 4.10. Joubert converted with an excellent kick. Dulwich, 13; Merchant Taylors, 3.

Exactly two minutes later Robottom stepped straight into the Hall of Fame with his second try. He got the ball from Cazalet on the half-way line, gave his breeches a determined hitch, and started out over a tract of territory liberally studded with opponents. It looked any odds against his scoring, but he handed off his wing and somehow managed to get past the back and galloped round behind the posts. Many a man has got the O.B.E. for less. Joubert converted. Time, 4.12. Dulwich, 18; Merchant Taylors, 3.

And, just as the clock on the old ivied tower was striking 4.15 who should appear in the van of our attack but Joubert, sprinting up from back and taking a pass from Thomas, just after Goodwin had put us fairly near the line with a good dribble. Joubert ran straight down the touch-line and hurled himself over in the corner, too far out for him to convert. This sort of thing is not strictly speaking a back’s job, but personally we are all for it, and would like more. Dulwich, 21; Merchant Taylors, 3.

This was the last of the scoring. Three tries in five minutes is a nice rate of progress, but it seldom lasts. Merchant Taylors now made another big effort, reaching our line. Good tackling—one particularly good piece of work by Roberts—kept them out, and Murtrie made a long dribble to the Merchant Taylors’ twenty-five. Cazalet and Bryant almost scored, but Merchant Taylors came back to our line, and seemed certain to get over till Addison found touch with a socker-hack, and Cazalet, intercepting a pass, got to half-way just as “no-side” was called.

As we said before, a good afternoon’s work. The forwards, though beaten on the whole in the scrum, were always dangerous in the loose. Smith, Hill, and Bryant were particularly good, and Meston, Roberts, and Goodwin frequently caught the eye. Kempson played his usual sturdy game, and Murtrie was always good. Addison did not get many chances, but saved and tackled well. Joubert was excellent at back.

P. G. Wodehouse.