Oh yes! It’s that time of year again as the best of the North face the best of the South in the annual Far Side Derby at the Stade de Frigid.
No fixture is more eagerly awaited than the traditional December 25 clash of the hemispheres as the Northern Polar Bears and Southern Penguins renew their old rivalry.
As ever, the Bill Bew Sille trophy is on the line and the Bears have their best shot in ages at ending decades of southern domination after a fantastic year that has seen the gap between the hemispheres disappear.
The Penguins return to L’Igloo with a point to prove after a series of record-breaking results in 2016 that have shaken up the world order.
In the spotlight is the southern coaching staff with Penguins coach Chris Masphather believed to be incredibly frustrated with assistant coach Michallister Coetzeika, who has failed to produce any significant results.
By contrast Polar Bears coach Clause Santason couldn’t be happier with his new addition to the northern staff, Eddie Schmidt, who has made a massive impact since his arrival.
The southern cause is also being hampered by the inflamed cranium suffered by star wing Julyan Habavea, who is now struggling to even make the side.
Good news is that Penguins skipper Kieran Rhiteley is fit to play having recovered from a left-intercostal-earlobe-defragmentation. His headache is gone too.
The southern captain is joined in the back-row by the incredibly talented Dardie Socock (pictured), who can play both sides of the scrum. He pilfers, he plunders, he pillages, he preys, he plucks, he picks, he lifts, he loots, he liberates the ball from any bondage – if you don’t hold onto it, he’ll steal it. He and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the great, legendary, iconic, all-round-awesome but recently retired. Richie McBurger.
Injury-prone Bears playmaker is George Fexton has an inflamed-incandescent-infected-ingrown toenail (again) but nevertheless starts ahead of François Bigg-Darc.
The Bears will be hoping for a big performance from the enigmatic Owen Fastarreaull (pictured), whose versatility anywhere between 10 and 13 makes his a valuable asset. He also has great hair.
Prediction: It’s a tough one to call, but history suggests the Penguins must be considered as favourites…but anything is possible. You can be sure of one thing: After the game the ‘refreshments’ will flow thick and fast. The Hemispheres to draw 25-all and everyone to have a merry Christmas, a cracking New Year, be friends and live happily ever after!
North Pole: 15 Mike Bogg, 14 Anthony Wuget, 13 Joseph Davies, 12 Owen Fastarreaull, 11 George Norwell, 10 George Fexton, 9 Conor Moungs, 8 Sergio Faletipola, 7 Chris Roburton (c), 6 Maro Lydistander, 5 Yoann Grawes, 4 Iain Henderbury, 3 Dan Cross, 2 Rory Beartley, 1 Mako Healipola
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Goung, 17 Jack McNel, 18 Alun Wyn Chartoner, 19 Louis Picaslip, 20 Rhys Wachenaud, 21 François Bigg-Darc, 22 Robbie Henfana, 23 Brice Kearpenny
South Pole: 15 Izzy Falagg, 14 Raisake Combrinolo, 13 Malavita Fekidrani, 12 Juan-Damain Derallendez, 11 Julyan Habavea, 10 Beauden Bambie, 9 Aaron Senia, 8 Kieran Rhiteley (c), 7 Dardie Socock, 6 Jerome Fardno, 5 Pieter-Sam Toitlock, 4 Brodie Etzeballick, 3 Owen Fepu, 2 Dane Coleevy, 1 Beast Crockarira
Replacements: 16 Stephen Mrauss, 17 Charlie Faumerrera, 18 Lood Jumm, 19 Juan-Michael Hoopandez Louw, 20 Faf Klubelli, 21 Quade Sanchez, 22 Bernard Frotty, 23 Willie Ruculet
Date: Sunday, December 25
Venue: Stade de Frigid
Kick-off: High Noon
Weather: minus 24°C, snow, and a fresh north-wester 35 km/h
Referee: Lawrence Lawrence
Touch judges: Mark Lawrence, Bryce Lawrence
Television match official: Jean-Pierre Lawrence III
Assessor: His Royal Highness The Scarlet Badger