IN a rugby match filled with intensity and emotion, the Eagles 2XV faced the Spartans of St. Austell on a cold and dreary Tregenver playing field, writes Danny Trick. 

The stage was set for a battle that would leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who witnessed it. However, what unfolded on this fateful day was a tragedy that no one could have foreseen.

From the kick-off, both teams showcased their strength and determination, leaving no doubt that victory would not come easily. Falmouth fought valiantly in the first half with notable runs from the back three Dylan Statham, Max Amos and Aaron Piper and strong forward carries by Phill Morgan and Harry Martin.

However the opposition's line-out was functioning far more cohesively and Falmouth found themselves camped in their own half for long periods unable to match the strength of the Spartans forwards.

As the match progressed towards the second half, it became evident that this would be a tightly contested affair. The score remained deadlocked for a significant part of the game, heightening the tension and anticipation for a breakthrough. The ball finally made it wide after thirty minutes as St. Austell broke down Falmouth’s defence converting just left of the posts. 0-7

As the halftime whistle blew Falmouth brought on winger Jake Flakeman for his debut. Falmouth now playing down the slope, mounted waves of attacks through centre and captain Tug Wilson who tip-toed his way to within a yard of the line. The ball was then released by Alex Lowndes to Greg Pooley who darted the ball to the base of the posts to score. The conversion was then charged down the score 5-7

For a further ten minutes, the Eagles looked the more likely to score next with Dom Fearn and Rhys Barnes carrying well. However the Spartans had other plans and against the run of play poached a try down the left flank, which was converted, the score 5-14

As the Eagles entered the last third of the match, facing mounting injuries in the forwards team player manager Sandy brought himself on to bolster the pack.

With immense pride and determination, Sandy stepped onto the field, rallying his teammates with words of encouragement and a never-give-up attitude. With the injection of Danny Trick at centre, the Eagles now fought tooth and nail to gain the upper hand however possession was hard to come by and the Spartans kept the ball up their jumpers. Time was up and the game ended 5-14 to St. Austell.

Little did the team know that this would be Sanders' last stand as fate had a different plan. Having made his way back to the Clubhouse for a well-deserved pint, player-manager Sandy later suffered a sudden heart attack. The clubhouse came to a halt as first responders from both teams rushed to his aid, desperately trying to revive him.

Despite initial hope, the valiant efforts were to no avail, and the tragic news was broken to the Clubhouse by chairman John Bullock. The atmosphere, once filled with festivity and cheer, became a sombre symphony of mourning and reflection.

While the final score line showed a 7-14 loss, the true impact of this match transcended the numbers on the scoreboard. It served as a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the bonds that are forged through Rugby. The team will carry the memory of their fallen player-manager with them, striving to honour his spirit each time they step onto the field.

May Sandy rest in eternal peace, knowing that his legacy lives on in the hearts of his teammates and the Cornish rugby community as a whole.

The club would like to welcome all those who wish to pay tribute to Sandy at the forthcoming Falmouth Rugby Family Reunion on Saturday, December 16 from 12:30pm.

The 2XV have decided not to play Wadebridge and postpone until a later date in respect to Sandy and give the team time to recover from the immense loss.