Cornwall RLFC plays the Midland Hurricanes in historic inaugural home match

| Patrick Tod

For the second time in the game’s 127 year history, Cornwall’s rugby league team took to the pitch in the gold and black colours of ancient Cornish kings. Having begun their first season against the North Wales Crusaders at the Eirias Stadium on 2 April, Sunday’s game marked another first in the team’s history as they met the Midlands Hurricanes at home at Penryn’s Memorial Ground.

After the opening rounds of the Betfred League 1—in which Cornwall RLFC compete along with the Betfred Challenge Cup—the team were sitting in 9th place (of 11) between the London Skolars and Midlands Hurricanes prior to this weekend’s match.

As the newest team in the league they’ve yet to claim a win, losing 22-62 to the Crusaders last week and 14-60 to the Hurricanes on Sunday. However, despite the loss this weekend, there were passages of brilliance as the team scored 3 tries and the crowd got glimpses of the team they could become.

| Miriam Leyshon

Kick-off was at 1 PM, although the grounds had opened 2 hours earlier to serve burgers, beer, and cheesy chips from food trucks to fans in stripy scarfs and purple hats. As I arrived to the sound of Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ‘69” blared from a speaker in the stands, I noticed one dedicated spectator had attached a wreath to a hardhat and nested a chough on top in homage of Cornwall’s county bird and emblem of Cornwall RLFC.

A sense of pride reverberated from the home fans who were witness to this historic moment in Cornish history.

I found a seat on the grass bank at the end of the pitch after walking through crowds avidly watching the two teams warm up. At 1 PM exactly, the Hurricanes jogged out from between the stands followed closely by Cornwall RLFC to applause and cheers of “go Kernow!”. Three minutes later, Cornwall were close to getting the first try, having begun their game with the determination of having a home crowd cheering them on. However, in the next set the ball was kicked down the field by the Hurricanes, placing the Choughs under pressure. The Hurricanes regained possession and in the following set they scored the first try at 8 minutes in. In under 30 minutes the Hurricanes had scored 4 tries, but not without opposition from Cornwall who showcased a strong offensive line that saw number 18 gain several metres with two Hurricanes hanging off his legs before a third brought him down. The quick feet of number 26 also brought Cornwall close to the try line a number of times.

After 40 minutes of play, the half-time whistle sounded without seeing a score from the Choughs. The second half would however witness a courageous comeback from the home team. During half-time the general consensus of the crowd seemed to be that Cornwall had begun strongly but been overwhelmed by the experience, size, and speed of the Hurricanes.  Evidently, they’d managed to regain some of their confidence during the break, taking to the field with a new vigour and purpose. After 55 minutes Cornwall had scored 2 tries in quick succession and were advancing on a third. Unfortunately, their third was to be their last, as the Hurricanes stepped up their offensive efforts and scored a further 3 tries in the last 20 minutes, making the score 14-60 at the final whistle.

| Patrick Tod

The 3 tries by the Choughs sent an electric pulse through the crowd that remained long after the teams had shaken hands and made their rounds of the pitch. A sense of pride reverberated from the home fans who were witness to this historic moment in Cornish history.

Cornwall RLFC will next play Doncaster at the Eco-Power Stadium on the 16 April, before returning to the Memorial Ground on the 1 May to play the Rochdale Hornets. Free tickets will be offered to students of the University of Exeter and Falmouth University, who the club are keen to engage as the next generation of rugby league fans.

A spokesperson for the club says: “Cornwall RLFC matches are just like a get together with friends. The feel of our games is different to any other sporting event you will find. We celebrate Cornwall and support sporting diversity. For our 1 May game we are offering every Falmouth University and University of Exeter student a ticket, completely free. All you need to do is visit our website, add your general standing tickets to the basket and use discount code UNIVERSITY to discount it to zero, and then check out. We want a student invasion!”.

Kernow bys vyken!

Click here to find out more about Cornwall RLFC.