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Cornish rugby to be honoured at Wembley

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: December 03, 2008

Cornish rugby  to be honoured at Wembley
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THE world-renowned Barbarians will honour Cornish rugby this evening by breaking with tradition and wearing the Duchy's black and gold socks for their Olympic centenary clash with Australia at Wembley Stadium.

Tradition normally sees anyone representing the Barbarians take to the field wearing the socks of their current club side. Tonight, however, that will all change as the famous representative side mark the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

For many followers of Cornish rugby, the 1908 Games holds a special place in their hearts. At that time France were the defending Olympic champions but when they withdrew from the event, leaving just Australia and Great Britain to contest the gold medal, it was then County champions Cornwall who took to the field to represent the host nation.

Australia, who had beaten Cornwall earlier in their 31-match tour, won the final 32-3, but the match has gone down in the history books and tonight the Duchy will be honoured for their part all those years ago.

Cornwall Rugby Football Union secretary Alan Mitchell, for one, is humbled by the honour. He said: "It's great that the Baa-Baas are breaking tradition, it's a very strong gesture by them.

"We've sent up 30 pairs for the guys so we look forward to seeing the black and gold on their socks!"

There was even talk that the Barbarians may swap their legendary Black & White jerseys for that of the Cornish colours, but sadly that will not happen.

"There was a suggestion they may play in the Cornish shirts," added Mitchell. "But ultimately they couldn't really do that. Still, they are swapping the club socks for Cornish socks, which are pretty iconic, so we're more than happy."

It was hoped that, with all the hype surrounding the game and the strong Cornish element involved, perhaps the Duchy would even have some kind of representation on the playing front as well. Indeed, Wasps and England prop Phil Vickery was openly keen on the idea.

"We obviously wanted to have some Cornish representation and Phil Vickery was one who was being lined up," said Mitchell. "But due to the Autumn internationals the previous week and the upcoming Heinken Cup fixtures at the weekend, it was never really on the cards and the players were not likely to be released."

The contribution of Cornwall a century ago will also be further recognised by the presentation of the Cornwall Cup to the winning captain at Wembley, with the players of the respective sides receiving gold or silver commemorative medals.

Mitchell will be among a number of CRFU officials travelling to the capital for tonight's fixture.

He added: "There is about 14 of us going up in total, so we're really looking forward to it. We've been in contact with the Barbarians since the Remembrance Day game in Plymouth last month and they're really looking forward to it like us."

The game itself will be the first rugby union fixture to take place in the new multi-mullion pound stadium. The last time rugby union featured at Wembley was when Wales claimed a last-gasp 32-31 victory over England in the then Five Nations in 1999.

Mitchell insists he could not think of a better way to christen the new stadium. He said: "It's great that this is the first game of rugby in the new Wembley. They think that there will be around 50 to 60,000 fans in the ground, so that's should make for a tremendous atmosphere."

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    Bill Hooper, Mylor Bridge  |  December 03 2008, 4:09PM

    The winning captain will receive the "Cornwall Cup". I firmly believe that this trophy should not be handed to the CRFU to sit in a cupboard gathering dust for years to come. Instead I believe that the CRFU should hand the cup back to the Barbarian club with the expressed wish that it be contested for each time the Barbarians play the Wallabies, that to my mind will be a continuing fitting "honour" that 1908 side.

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