England Deaf Rugby squad complete a clean sweep over the New Zealand Deaf Blacks, in the first-ever international test series between the two nations. The home side, England beat New Zealand in three fiercely contested matches over two weeks.
On Saturday 4 November, England and New Zealand kicked off the opening test match at Blackheath Football Club in front of capacity crowd of around 1,100 people. Described as a thrilling encounter, England took the lead in the series with an impressive 36-27 win over the visitors.
On Wednesday 8 November, the series moved to Harlow Rugby Club where the two squads lined up for the second test. New Zealand dominated from the start, racking up two converted tries and a penalty in the first half. England left the field at halftime down 0-15, and it looked like an impossible task for them to turn the game around. After a few words in the dressing room, England were back out early with a point to prove.
A determined and spirited performance from England followed. They pulled New Zealand back in to trail 15-20. All the momentum seemed to be with England but they didn’t make it easy, Captain Luke Cheyne was sin binned with 15 minutes to go. The rest of the team responded and with just minutes to go, England scored a third try to level the game at 20-20. With only a couple minutes of the game left, England kicked the conversion to win the match 22-20.
Against the odds, England won the second test and wrapped up the series 2-0, with one match still to play.
The final test took place on Saturday 12 November at Barking Rugby Club. In another high quality, bruising battle between two fantastic rugby nations, England were victorious again. Completing a clean sweep over the New Zealanders with a 31-18 win.
Congratulations to the England squad on their performance, and well done to both teams on a fantastic display of deaf rugby for spectators in the first ever international series.