The world of college rugby joined together on Sunday morning to remember the life of Charles de Ladoucette, the James player who tragically died during the Easter holidays. In beautiful late spring sunshine on the 22 Acres, the James team paid him the perfect tribute, beating a college Barbarians side 13-7.
Both sides sported black armbands and staged a minute’s silence in his honour, while collections on the sidelines raised substantial sums of money for the Pour un Sorire d’Enfant charity, an organisation that Charles worked for during his time in Cambodia.
Alex Muntus, President of the James team, admitted afterwards that his players required no motivation for this encounter: “This was all about Charles, and the game was played in a terrific spirit. Today summed up all that is great about college rugby and did some good for charity. Of course, it was the right result as well!”
Charles was an integral part, both on and off the pitch, of a James side which has proved tough to beat this season, winning both the XV’s and sevens tournaments with style. His popularity was demonstrated by the large Barbarians squad, which assembled players mainly from Derwent and Alcuin, though most colleges were represented.
James made the best of an uninspired opening to the match, getting on the scoresheet within five minutes as Will Maxwell exploited space on the left flank to cross the try line. Jordan Abbott bookended a scrappy half with a try to nudge the Barbarians into a 7-5 lead, sliding over amidst a mass of bodies.
The crucial moment arrived early in the second period, when Miguel Holloway completed a move instigated by James Captain Seb Weir to restore the lead. Shortly afterwards, Weir kicked a penalty to ensure his team would be victorious, moving them a converted try clear at 13-7.
Reflecting on the occasion, Rafael Gindre, James winger and close friend of Charles, said: “Charles simply loved rugby and once he had discovered the game, he just couldn’t stop playing it, even back home in Toulouse.”
“To win for him was a great honour, especially since this was against a Barbarians team, or the best of all college rugby,” he added. “Every player paid £3 for the Cambodia charity, where there has been a camp set up in his name. What a great tribute.”
Gindre said a few words of tribute to Charles prior to the minute’s silence, which was impeccably observed. The match was the idea of Dan Taylor, Captain of the Barbarians side, who was saddened by the news of Charles’s death during the vacation. In addition, the university waived the pitch hire fees as a mark of respect.
Paul Guest, part of the Barbarians team, said afterwards: “It has been a really good day and a fitting tribute played in the right spirit. It just goes to prove the good atmosphere in college rugby, a sport I love to play in.”
The French charity Charles worked for helps young children forced to live on the rubbish dumps of Phnom-Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Further information, in French, can be found at http://pse.asso.fr/index.php.