Theo Cabango billed it “a dream come true” as he scored one of Cardiff’s three tries in a spirited performance against Harlequins in the Heineken Champions Cup.
With 48 players and staff coming out of quarantine through this week and a host of other injuries, Cardiff once again fielded a scratch team under the tutelage of academy manager Gruff Rees.
Cabango acquitted himself well as he made his first team debut against reigning European champions, Toulouse last week and he took it up another level against English champions, Harlequins.
With 115 metres, Cabango made more ground than any other player at the Stoop, he scorched away for a scintillating try and was unfortunate not to grab a second on two occasions.
Reflecting on an unbelievable two weeks, the 19-year-old said: “We’re not taking it so much as a loss, we’re just happy to build together as a team because we’ve quite an unfortunate situation.
“We made the most of it, have come together as one and I’m just really proud of what we’ve done. For the support as well, who cam down here, it’s amazing.
“It’s a dream come true just to be playing against the likes of Marcus Smith and last week Antoine Dupont. It’s mind-blowing - one week you are playing for Cardiff RFC and the next for Cardiff Rugby!
“It’s amazing and I think most of us took that opportunity. It just goes to show what we can do and prove that we are here for a reason.”
Ellis Jenkins pounced for a trademark turnover on 35 minutes to put the wheels in motion for the stunning try.
Seb Davies then drew both defenders on the blindside before popping the ball out of contact to the wing and the rest, as they say, is history.
He scorched away down the left and stepped inside to devastating effect, leaving three defenders in his wake.
Jenkins, again, was enormously impressed with the academy kids and semi-pro stalwarts, who answered an SOS with 42 players unavailable.
He added: ““Most of us make our debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup or the LV=Cup against other academy boys not against British Lions and English internationals so they showed up well.
“As for any youngster coming in, there are bits to work on but what a team to play against and they’ll be better for it.
“We knew it was going to be tough but it’s similar to last week, I can’t speak highly enough of the boys who stepped in.
“To be drawing at half time and right in the game until we were… we knew it was going to be tough, we knew Harlequins in the second half are always impressive performers. We were bringing on less experienced boys but I though everyone stood up.
“The coaches asked for bodies on the line from minute one to 80 and that’s what happened. The result is probably irrelevant for us and I can’t thank the boys enough in difficult circumstances.”
Cardiff are next in action in the United Rugby Championship when they take on the Scarlets on Boxing Day. Limited tickets remain available at www.eticketing.co.uk/cardiffrugby