On Thursday we played a touring team from Northern Ireland in The Royal School, Armagh. They are a formidable rugby playing school, well known to Mr Boyd and they played like every Irish schoolboy team, with physicality and a high level of skill.
To start our U15s played bolstered by some U14s played two halves and the standard of play was very high by both teams and very pleasing to watch. A well-finished try from Josh Lynch was our only score in a 22-5 loss. The defence from most of the players on the pitch was admirable, especially Purcell, Peevor, McGuigan, Earle, Shekar, Clark and, no surprise, Lynch.
The second match saw a colts’ side take to the field and the intensity from both sides increased considerably with some thumping hits and heavy carries. The conditions worsened but the standard of play was maintained apart from a marginal increase in error count from both teams. A well worked try from Tom Hughes resulted in a 5-5 draw.
There were two awards, provided by the visitors, for those who most deserving and they are for progress and go to Suhas Shekar and Josh Peevor.
St Edward’s started the brighter with an early try but having gone six minutes without the ball we were not too dejected. We knew with ball “in hand” we could get some scores on the board but conditions were not in our favour on a moist, heavy pitch.
This, coupled with some heavy forwards intent on remaking havoc left us 3 scores behind in a very competitive game.
Fly half Gardener tried to play some ambitious and exotic rugby but once it proved unproductive he was able to change to a more strategic approach which was more effective. The end result, a fantastic team try finished off by Jamie Smith in the corner. A try by Clark, and another by galloping No 8 (that is not a typo!) Pulford, left the game 27-20 with 10 minutes left.
But with 2 minutes left on the clock a poor kick chase made their fullback look like Serge Blanco and we conceded to leave the end result 34-20. The low point of the day was Hughes giving away more ‘offsides’ than Mr Boyd has had hot dinners but, that said the lads were happy with their lot and a round of applause for Andrew Callaghan at the end of the match for his gallant efforts was undoubtedly the highlight.
Knutsford arrived with a large pack but this did not phase the Rydal Colts. The first 20 minutes of the match saw some of the best rugby the Colts have ever played. Sam Bixby lead from the front with several barnstorming runs and crunching tackles. This inspired the rest of the team, and Sten and Damisola made several strong carries in heavy traffic.
With several players playing out of position the whole team took on the challenge and were competitive for much of the match. It was great to see Joe Ieong using his basketball skills to good effect in the lineout.
Unfortunately, the opposition were well drilled and scored a few soft tries from set piece. The final score of 44-12 does not do the competitive nature of the match justice.
A much changed U14 team travelled to St Edward’s College for the first fixture back after half term, and were met with significant resistance from a sizeable opposition pack. After an erratic start from both teams, St Edward’s began to find their stride, scoring several tries by turning defence into attack, tackling hard, recycling the ball and carrying through the gaps in our defence.
Rydal’s defensive organisation improved as the match went on, though the man-on-man tackling still leaves a lot to be desired. Special mentions go to John Williams, who was imperious in defence at full-back, not missing a single tackle, and to Osca Clark, who was like a dog with a bone, ripping the ball on several occasions, and carrying the ball extremely effectively.
An impressive 4-4 draw with St Edward's at u13b level saw some fine performances, notably from August, Telor and Henry Hibbert in his first game. Man of the Match across both our games, however, was Ben Alefounder who, along with Jonah, Will, Telor and Henry scored tries over the two games.
A really pleasing win in our second game against Knutsford, a team very new to rugby. It was great to see debut tries for Tarun, Jake and Philo. A good 5-2 win which reflects well the strength in depth we have at u13 level.