A little Caribbean flavour has come to Melton RFC this season thanks to new recruits Franco Mompremier and Lincoln Outten.
The pair agreed to try a season of English rugby union as part of a cultural exchange between the Melton club and a distant cousin in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Former Melton captain Richard Hesford came up with the idea while working out in the Caribbean.
Discovering the small group of islands had a rugby club, Richard’s sons joined their ranks, playing tag rugby and training.
When Richard’s family went out to visit, they took with them kit which had been begged and borrowed from Leicester Tigers, the RFU, and Melton firm SAQ International, all of which was gratefully received and well used.
Melton RFC committee member Brian Hesford explained: “The set-up is different over there. It is usually one team per group of Islands so they play two or three 15-a-side matches per season against other islands.
“There are a couple of sevens tournaments per season, while the club has a keenly-contested Tag League of about eight to 10 mixed teams playing throughout the season.”
Richard asked the club’s president whether a few of their keener players could come and experience weekly 15-a-side rugby for a season.
With exchange agreed, Lincoln, known as LJ, and Franco have been getting to grips with rugby in unfamiliar conditions of icy cold and driving rain.
It is true the Turks and Caicos are going through their own annual cool months, which run from November to April, as temperatures ‘plummet’ to the high 20s.
Club chairman Marcus Twydale has been instrumental in getting both settled here, putting up LJ and driving the pair to training and matches.
Brian added: “They have added to the club, and fist-bumping is becoming the norm.
“Seeing LJ playing in four of five layers of clothes and gloves is not unusual.”