The College Rugby community came together on Sunday to pay their respects to Charles de Ladoucette, the James player who passed away just over a year ago. In a fitting tribute to his memory, a College Barbarians XV defeated James 29-26 in an engrossing game of rugby, the outcome of which was in doubt until the final moments.
A minute’s silence was impeccably observed on the 22 Acres by a sizeable crowd of spectators, the James squad and a Barbarians team made up of players from most of the colleges entered in the Emperor League. Post-match, a collection was held for the Pour un Sorire d’Enfant charity, an organisation Charles worked from during his gap year in Cambodia.
Charles was an important member of the James side which won both the College XVs and sevens tournaments during the 2008-2009 season. James have continued to excel during the current academic year as College Rugby at the University of York continues to grow in stature, notably through the staging of the inaugural Emperor League and successful one-day tournaments.
Paul Guest, joint-Captain of the Barbarians side, reflected the spirit of the occasion by saying: “This is a brilliant way of remembering Charles. All of the players in my team were more than happy to play, especially those who knew Charles personally.”
The two teams line up to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Charles prior to kick-off. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.
Alex Muntus, President of the James team, delivered a short address prior to kick-off in which he fondly recalled Charles’s “warmth, spirit and kindness” and commended the great turnout despite the exigencies of exams and essay deadlines for the third years.
James were missing a number of key players in the back row through injury but enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, taking a lead through Ollie Woodward’s try midway through the opening half. However, the Barbarians quickly responded, running in three scores, through Tolga Necar, Simon Reed and Josh Andrade, to open up a 17-5 half-time lead.
The second-half offered terrific entertainment, with Chris Smith racing through to bring James back into contention, only for Simon Reed’s second try to push the score to 24-12. The final five minutes of the game saw a flurry of action, with tries for Alex Muntus and Ben Ivory coming either side of a decisive fifth Barbarians score.
Alex Muntus in the act of scoring his 75th minute try. Before kick-off, he led the tributes to Charles, remembering his “warmth, spirit and kindness.” Photograph by Maggie Aslet.
Reflecting on what could be his final match for James, Muntus said: “It was an entertaining game – that was the main thing – and it was nice to see so many people down here.
“I’m very proud of all the third years in the squad, but the future of James rugby is in safe hands with the younger lads. It’s a great tribute to Charles the lengths some of the players and spectators have gone to today – a couple of the guys have even travelled up from London for the game.”
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 can be found here.
James on the counter during the match, which they would eventually lose 26-29. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.