The airport was quiet and the majority of the team checked in and dropped their luggage at the bag drop with no issue (apart from Blocktapus getting into trouble for trying to check in 20 sets of wheels which resulted in a last minute pass of toiletry bags to Sarah Smart to take the bag weight down)
We were all present apart from the 4 who were driving down to Gatwick later that day for a 7am flight Saturday morning) Poor buggers!
After a short flight, a quick snooze and a game of Dinosaur Top Trumps, we arrived in Carcassonne. All our bags were collected from the carousel …. apart from Daze’s! After a few phone calls we discovered that her bag was still at Stansted Airport but thank goodness she had her skates in carry on. Missing only one knee pad and a helmet, we sent a quick pleading emergency email to Roller Derby Toulouse and got them on the hunt for a replacement.
A quick taxi ride to the train station and we were soon on a very nice (delayed) train to Toulouse! This hour went quickly with more top trumps and the jelly bean game (trying to avoid the liquorish one) and we were finally in Toulouse. Zut alors!
The Gatwick contingent were making their way down from Sheffield to Gatwick by car on Friday evening, ready to spend the night in the futuristic cabins of the Gatwick Yotel and head out at 7 am.
After a good nights sleep were ready to go and explore Toulouse, eat pastries and keep a watchful eye on Nuke and Crasher who had a cheeky skate around the city with only one stumble and a scraped arm. I nearly had a heart attack though when Crasher tried to leap frog a post! Safety first!
We even discovered some Nothing Toulouse skaters promoting the bout in town!
After a few hours of exploring, discovering the city parks were all locked up and avoiding falling tree branches (due to the hurricane force winds) we headed back for a power nap before the evening bout.
We gathered everyone together and headed to the bout venue which was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. The venue was amazing! The floor was a perfect size for a derby track with banked seating down each side of the straights. We were given our own changing room, with an ample supply of bananas and bottled water. The bout was being filmed by a French Television company so there were cameras popping up all over the place taking some strange shots.
The atmosphere in the venue was AMAZING!
By the end of the first half we managed to get our score up to 30 something and it was time to get our thoughts together. After a regroup and motivational talk during half time we came out guns blazing! We started getting lead jammer and holding their jammers back. Our score started to climb.
The final whistle went at leaving the scores at Nothing Toulouse 230 : 103 Sheffield Steel Rollergirls
So what did we learn? Nothing Toulouse are a strong, agile, formidable team and while they were a delight to play, we would liked to have adjusted to their style of play earlier in the bout. We worked out how to defend against them much better in the second half, scored more than they did in the second half, and got lead jammer loads. But we couldn’t recover from the half time score differential. All good learning for next time! Pouvons-nous faire une fois de plus, les femmes formidables?
Where awards were handed out:
Best Blocker going to Sarah Smart,
Best Jammer, Red Collide-Side
MVP Nicky Fury
And for Nothing Toulouse:
Best Blocker: Chakk Attack
Best Jammer: Zaza Du Daemon
MVP: Cash Pistache
And drinks were drunk.
With slightly sore heads, we headed home.
This was such an amazing experience for our team despite the loss. Toulouse were such great hosts!
"Quand pouvons-nous nous rencontrer à nouveau, vous êtes des gens merveilleux !"