London Scottish fielded three sides at the Middlesex festival on 6th March 2016. Overall the quality of play was extremely high with our players and coaches being commended repeatedly for both quality of play and sportsmanship.
It was excellent to be able to field 3 sides with a good number of children taking their turn to be able to play in a festival. We will continue to rotate things around to give all a chance to play in these exciting festivals.
The children got off to a striking start despite the cold morning with some really creative play. Fabulous to see them now working as a team and calling on each other for the pass. Great use of space created and really supportive play. Plenty of fast ball and quick restarts when ball was turned over to our side.
Some things we will be focusing on in upcoming training sessions will be fast pass of the ball when tagged before the defensive side have had full chance to rally support; ensuring players are supporting the forward play ready for that fast pass and defensive play including positioning and optimising tagging.
Great support from parents as always, which is thoroughly appreciated from volunteer coaches and kids alike.
Under 7’s A Side
In the week that the topic of young people playing rugby hit the national headlines, we had the pleasure of entering an U7 squad in the annual Middlesex Festival. For me, the Festival encapsulates why this sport, that we play, that we coach, that we support and that we love is so important for so many reasons.
The tournament was attended by a number of teams across the region; ranging from those who have well-established mini/junior sections to those who are in the early days of developing that age group structure for their club. But while there may be differences in how long junior teams have been established, there are definite consistencies in the enthusiasm and passion displayed by parents, children and coaches. There is also a mutual recognition across clubs that the Festival is all about the children –both in experiencing participating in a competitive tournament but most importantly in igniting that love for the game that many of us hold today.
The organisers of the U7 Festival, the coaching team from Teddington RFC, summed up this spirit in the referee briefing session when they highlighted while it is important to win and to be competitive that we must always remember that the children playing are ‘our babies’. That they must have fun, must enjoy the experience and must learn from the adults the spirit of rugby: team-work; fairness and respect.
This year, we had entered a team in the ‘A’ league within the Festival. As we met at our designated ‘park bench’, it was clear that while we could not compete with some of the teams in terms of the club-branded marquees and the whole array of club kit bags, we could definitely compete on the enthusiasm and ability displayed by the children and the support and passion of the parents. In our first game against a well-drilled Chiswick team, the children demonstrated all their hard-work over the season in practising their tagging and the defensive positioning.
We won through a series of tries from across the team especially from Olly, Chris and Becky. But scoring is only one chapter in the rugby story, the ferocious tagging from Tabitha was the major difference between the teams. Our next game was against Teddington. We lost by one try. But throughout the game, the children did not give up and their grit and determination was admirable. This was clearly demonstrated by Vinay who led from front and played a key role in making sure that the team was either in a defensive wall or an attacking pyramid. Our results in the group meant that we had booked a place in the quarter-finals where we drew another Chiswick team. This game was my highlight of the season to date. To see the scoring runs of Olly; the quick side-steps of Chris; and the pace of Becky were a rugby coach’s dream. But my most memorable moment was at the end of the game when Monty beat three players to score the winning try in the corner. We met a strong Wasp’s team in the semi-final where we were beaten. But again the London Scottish kids were not daunted. It was a close game and we exited the Festival with our heads held high. This game saw Will and Ethan join the team and both showed great potential and enthusiasm in taking the game to Wasps.
As the Festival came to an end and we made our way back home to celebrate the remainder of Mother’s Day, the day for me drummed home why it is such a great pleasure and honour to coach the U6/7s at London Scottish this year. The children’s commitment to learn; their impeccable behaviour; and their passion for playing rugby makes cold Sunday mornings all worthwhile – and the parents are not bad either!
So onwards to the next tournament where those U7s who did not play at the Middlesex Festival will be given the opportunity to attend; and onwards to another day where we can stand proud behind the London Scottish Minis.
Under 7’s B1 Side
Coach: Iain Whyte
The B1 side got off to a terrific start facing strong opposition from the outset in the form of old rivals Rosslyn Park. It was a closely fought contest but strength of our team and the quick ball played by our team took us to victory. Will Malcolm showed some good early signs of leadership volunteering to captain the side, shouting nice clear instructions to form a defensive wall and build the support pyramid when attacking. Fynn Adams played a strong game with quick and effective sidesteps that had Rosslyn Park unable to stop the tries flood in.
Once again Monty Oates proved a solid reliable player, stepping in straight from an A team match to replace a missing player, much to the appreciation of his team mates. Rupert Fuller showed astounding turn of speed on two occasions foxing the other side with two massive runs from the half way line after receiving two long passes from Ethan Jansen van Rensburg. The bulk of Rosslyn Park players were defending on one side of pitch where Ethan and Rupert played the ball wide and nailed the try. London Scottish B1 won 10:7
The second B1 match was a Grasshoppers whom we had trained with only a few weeks prior. They had a terrifically strong side who clearly had trained closely together with one boy that seemed nearly 7ft tall! B1 team put up terrific opposition and I was particularly pleased to see the wonderful defensive play coming through from training sessions. Some extra support was drawn in to avoid overplaying some players and keeping all minis warm between matches.
Chris Cato joined the B1 side from the A side and showed his tagging ability, intercepting the attacking side quickly and on each occasion being supported by Ethan and Fynn. Rory Sweeney came on to replace Chris with a seamless transition, offering the same strength of defence and ability to take full advantage of turned over ball.
Despite all the fabulous efforts however in a fiercely fought game, the Grasshoppers won by a narrow margin at 8:6.
All in all, terrific quality of play and great sportsmanship from all our minis. A lot of lessons that we will take forward to future festivals and the tour, giving us some great insight on what we must now focus on in the remaining training sessions of season 2015/2016.
Under 7’s B2 Side
Coach: Sandeep Singh
Our B2 side had first game against Bank of England side. Our captain Oliver Draper marshalled his troops really well organising defence line and trying to out fox opposition by changing directions when running towards try line. Becky Weighall, Jacob Benjamin & Vinay Singh were willing runners providing support to try scorers and scoring try each when Oliver or Cameron Barboni got tagged close to try line. Vinay Singh & Jacob Benjamin we very efficient in reorganising defence line to stop quick charge by opposition. We tried to give game time to all players involved by rotating them after 2-3 play but still be competitive to progress to next round. We won handsomely by tries from Oliver, Becky and Cameron.
Second game saw us go head to head with Hammersmith & Fulham team. Most of our players played in 3 games (couple of games from A1 team) and you can see cohesion in their passing and tagging. Vinay managed to score try which was very pleasing to see for me personally. Oliver continued to make strong runs and was ably supported by Cameron & Becky from time to time. Tabitha Grey and Jacob were very efficient in organising defence and providing channels when we were attacking. We came on top with Oliver scoring multiple tries ably supported by Becky and Cameron.
Knockout round saw us pitted against Barnes. With effective substitution we saw all players get some time on the pitch and still keep team competitive. We scored multiple tries headed by Oliver, Becky and Tabitha. Our defence was effective in couple of turnovers which swayed game in our favour.
In semi-final we were up against Grasshoppers which nearly 7ft giant in their mix. It was daunting as out B1 team was knocked out by them in previous round. We had to borrowed couple of players (Fynn Adams, Rory Sweeney & Will Malcolm) from Matt’s team to compensate for players who had to leave early. We started well and scored successive tries to keep in touch but one turnover cost us place in final. We stuck with our substitution policy to allow all players time on pitch and look for bigger picture than just place in final. We lost the game by single try with final score 10-9 to Grasshoppers.
I am very proud of kids who played part in these four games and it was pleasure to help them on their rugby journey. I would like to thank all the parents who stayed till end in bitter cold. We have picked up few tips from other coaches as well as briefing from tournament organisers to improve our training going forward.