Sevenoaks under 8’s headed to Orpington for the prestigious 42nd Annual Westcombe Park Mini Rugby Festival.  The morning was fresh, but the sun warm as our squad of 9 began to gather.  The boys played with courage and skill, missing almost no tags, finding gaps, supporting their teammates and as a result, Sevenoaks came away Champions of their pool with more silverware to add to season’s collection.

Having lost the toss in game one against Beccehamians, our defensive play was put to the test from the off and our boys came out of the blocks at a blistering pace.  Every player was tagging for all their worth, forcing two 7th-tag turnovers and a 2-1 lead by the halftime whistle.  In the second half, Barnaby’s horizontal tagging and Tigers’ relentless thirst for tags kept the opposition at bay closing 4-2 at the games end.  A truly spectacular start to the day that left players, coaches and parents alike buzzing.

Beckenham won the toss in game two, but with little consequence.  Sevenoaks were gathering up tags like they were at a pic-n-mix counter.  Tagging was so frenzied that at one point, when there appeared to be no more opposition tags left, Luke managed to tag Barnaby!  The boys were seeking out and exploiting opportunities wherever they could.  Tiger kept his head after running into trouble at the halfway line and seeing Yiannis in space, made a long and accurate pass that ended in a try.  Jan’s speed and balance were in evidence in the second half when he twice danced through the defence and took off down the line for well-executed tries.  A high scoring game saw Sevenoaks take an 8-4 win that would prove crucial later in the tournament.

Westcombe Park delivered a first half shock to Sevenoaks as an air of complacency had set in.  Having lost the toss again, we suddenly found ourselves facing a determined home team.  After regrouping, our tagging proficiency again won out and we were able to hold 2-0 at the halftime whistle.  In the second half the team began to focus once again, with particularly impressive efforts from Mackenzie and Luke.  Well-considered and selfless support play put another 4 tries on the board and a 6-0 win.

Our fourth game against Dartford was always going to be one our toughest games.  Sevenoaks met Dartford at the Allianz Cup earlier in the year losing out to the dreaded coin toss in a well fought draw.  Dartford were a solid team, strong in defence and quick on the attack producing a well matched, exciting game.  Again our effective tagging kept Dartford in check and Forbes’ efforts from the first to the last whistle need recognition in this regard.  In the dying seconds, Dartford were 3-2 up and slipped a foot in to touch on a run guaranteed to result in a try.  With possession on our try line, Sevenoaks restarted and pushed forwards, seeking out the gaps where they could, keeping cool heads and not panicking when they were tagged.  With distance from our own try line increasing steadily, Sevenoaks worked their way forward until finally Callum carried over for a try.  The whole team had touched the ball and secured the 3-3 draw to a rapturous applause.

Our groups’ last game was against Old Elthamians and Sevenoaks were tied with Dartfordians at the top with the winner to be decided on tries if this game was won.  The boys called a huddle and began getting their game-heads on.  “Must win…” and “loads of tries” could be heard emanating from the group.  The boys took to the pitch with a committed silence.  Tagging was again faultless, exploiting gaps in the opposition line to break through, with Joshua in particular making a lovely break in the first half that very nearly ended in a try.  The final push on tired legs resulted in a 5-2 win and had taken Sevenoaks to group champions and Cup Winners.  Extremely well done boys!

Squad: Barnaby Burns, Callum Le Roux, Forbes Logan, Jan Lousberg, Joshua Clare, Luke Coll, Mackenzie Copp, Tiger Bussey and Yiannis Papadopoulos