Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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v Harlequins 24th November 1990


played at The Stoop

Harlequins 56 Clifton 4

There was a lot of press coverage for this match, partly by Sky TV in respect of the rugby and the rest as news coverage. The latter was due to Dennis Thatcher being a keen Harlequeins supporter. It was the week Magaret Thatcher stepped down as PM.

The Harlequins side featured an all international forward pack of Leonard, Moore, Mullins, Croker, Ackford, Skinner, Winterbottom (capt) and Chris Butcher. David Pears and Will Carling were the internationals in the backs. The game rested at 4-4 for the first 20 minutes and then the floodgates opened. Harlequins won 56-4.

Above action photos from the match

The Sunday Times reported on the 25th November

Harlequins 56 Clifton 4

HARLEQUINS 56 R Banks; M Wedderburn, W Carling, G Thompson, M Molyneux; D Pears, R Glenister; C Butcher, P Winterbottom, M Skinner, T Coker, P Ackford, A Mullins, B Moore, J Leonard.

CLIFTON 4 A Freeman; D Cottrell, J Watson, A Thomas, M Speakman; P Cue, M Trott; M Wyatt, P Polledri, J Edbrooke, C Blake, D Mason, P Cox, M Williams, S Hucker.

Scorers: Coker (T 10min) 4-0; Cottrell (T 15min) 4-4; Pears (PG 28min) 7-4; Pears (PG 33min) 10-4; Wedderburn (T) & Pears (C 37min) 16-4; Molyneux (T) & Pears (C 50min) 22-4; Wedderburn (T) & Pears (C 56min) 28-4; Banks (T 59min) 32-4; Molyneux (T) & Pears (C 63min) 38-4; Pears (T&C 67min) 44-4; Wedderburn (T) & Pears (C 73min) 50-4; Carling (T) & Pears (C 79min) 56-4.

Weather: dry. Ground: good.

Referee: D L Thomas (North Midlands).

WHEN I last regularly attended rugby matches, there used to be no such things as three o'clock kick-offs in midwinter, no floodlights even. In the 16-year gap, the gulf between the great clubs of England and those who try their hardest, seems to have become even more of a chasm.

Brave Clifton held Harlequins at four points apiece for 20 minutes but they were never going to win and, in the end, the Harlequins ran at them from all angles to put 56 on the board.

The Harlequins are always a source of interest, and sometimes envy. They had three players away playing sevens in Dubai, and have cancelled their three first team fixtures in coming weeks (unheard of in yesteryear), because no fewer than 38 of their players are to be called up for division and country rugby .

They also felt obliged (through a statement in the programme from their chairman, Roger Looker) to still some evident whispers to the effect that Will Carling, captain of England, had not been pulling his weight in club football.

There was certainly no sign of that. A playmaker for much of the game with strong speedy passes to either side of him, imaginatively given, he finished with the final runaway try. He's a strong fellow, and perhaps this year, at last, he will be seen to have acquired the wisdom to lead England to the championship they have so lamentably thrown away these past two years.

The surprise selection for Quins was Paul Ackford, not due to play after being felled like an oak tree in Windsor Great Park by that Argentinian haymaker. Thus did the home pack contain a full eight of international status. They were also at least a stone a man heavier.

The first sign of their power was when Coker barged over on the blind side from a breaking scrum. His try was quickly countered by Clifton who ran left and right with their full-back in the line for Cottrell to score on the right.

At this point Mr Thomas, the referee, was doing the big club no favours. He rubbed out David Pears's first attempt at a penalty but later gave him a second chance when Clifton offered a premature charge.

Pears also had the chance at the end of the half to add goal points to his two penalties when Wedderburn scored the first of his three tries on the right wing, making it 16-4 at half-time.

The Clifton pack literally came up off the floor at the first scrum in the Harlequin's 22 to try and gain yardage, but they gained never an inch and soon the floodgates were open. A weaving run by Gavin Thompson let in the flying left-winger Mike Molyneux.

Then in ever-quicker succession came further scores from Wedderburn, Richard Banks the full-back, Molyneux, Pears himself with a theatrical side-step behind the goal, Wedderburn again following another mighty charge by Coker and finally Carling.

Poor Clifton were so tired that their entire team seemed to be bunched in the middle of the field where their steps got slower and shorter as the Harlequins found their way through the wide open spaces on either flank.