A bright crisp Sunday morning with the five nations ahead. Always the best tournament of the year and always a good way to finish the season. Scores to be settled against Bank of England and London Welsh always friendly but always a rivalry.
First up Bank of England. The history: one game all over the season but a disappointing loss to BoE at home was still a not too distant memory. The LS boys came onto the pitch, the whistle blew. The toss had been won so kick-off to Scottish. However a poor start – the Scottish rucking meant lost possession and a quick opening try to BoE. But, in a theme to become characteristic of the morning, the boys kept their heads and started to play as they can. The rucking came back and with it possession. With ball in hand the London Scottish motor started to whirr. 3-2 to Scottish – a good start.
Next up London French the tournament hosts. Scottish were required to turn their shirts inside out so the referee could differentiate London Scottish from Les Bleus. Would their game be turned inside out by a revitalised London French who had some big strong players out. Tackling would be key. It was and together with some solid rucking and fantastic passing out to the wing (text book stuff) London Scottish gained a comfortable victory. 4-1 to Scottish.
Next the oldest and friendliest of rivalries. London Welsh had taken last year’s five nation from the London Scottish boys last in the closing minute of the closing game. Would it happen again? We knew we could beat Welsh, we had earlier in the season, but by the finest of margins in the closest of games. Possession, winning the ruck and maintaining the line would all be key. Welsh are masters at exploiting any gap and always, always dangerous with ball in hand. The pressure was on. Win this and we would be close to winning the 5 nations as intelligence had discovered that Scottish were the only team with a clean sheet at this stage of the competition. A close game as always, London Welsh ball handling exquisite but we were strong in the breakdown and confident with ball in hand. 3-2 to Scottish.
5 NATIONS ON!!!
Last game. The boys had worked out that they had won the tournament no matter what, despite the coaches best endeavours to keep this from them. But a grand slam – that was the goal – at least for the coaches. Would the boys respond?
They were all tired with 3 tough games behind them. London Irish were looking dangerous. As suspected the boys were tired and Irish were playing on all cylinders. 1-1 at half time. Irish quickly went up one in the opening minute of the second half continuing their impressive forward driven rugby – strong in the breakdown requiring crunching tackles from the Scottish boys.
But the boys found it in themselves and manged to claw it back to 2-2 with only 2 minutes to go. And then it came, champagne rugby a ball passed out to the wing and an unopposed Scottish run for ¾ of the length of the pitch. 3-2 to Scottish and a GRAND SLAM.
Huge, huge admiration for the boys and undoubtedly the best team effort all season. They never gave up and it turned out they all wanted the grand slam as much as the coaches. Big thank you to French for hosting the best tournament of the year again. Thanks also to the other nations for participating in proper competitive rugby (the score lines give it away) but played in the true spirit of the game.
One last outing for the U12 Scottish boys on tour in Wales next weekend (their last as U12s). Bring on junior rugby! Can't wait.
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