Traditionally, Westcombe Park is the final tournament of the season and SRFC were defending champions from last year, so Sevenoaks U9s took the opportunity to step up a gear, bringing a season’s worth of training together for the last tournament hurrah. With two teams in attendance, an early congregation allowed for some team training before the off. Both teams came out with intent and the momentum continued throughout the day, despite the dry hard ground.
Playing local teams such as Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook and hosts Westcombe Park to name but a few, Sevenoaks 1 conceded only two tries all day, both against Tunbridge Wells, testament to our strong defensive line and consistent tackling. Some great line play showed coaches and supporters just how far the players had come throughout the year, passing in to space, often at pace and using the line to capitalise on the width of the pitch. Sevenoaks 2 held a similar accolade, despite losing a player in the first, winning every game and conceding only 7 tries all day. The fifth and final match against Cranbrook was testament to their tackling proficiency, holding a quick and agile team to just 3 tries whilst running in 8 themselves.
Next weekend Sevenoaks depart on the annual tour before hanging up boots for a well earned summer break.
Team: Alex Yeasbley, Ediz Karsak, George Rehbein, Harry Corstophine, Isaac Rosier, Jan Lousberg, Luke Coll, Max Clark, Xavier Prongue, Yiannis Papadopoulos.
Coaches: Graeme Coll & Didier Prongue
Weather Conditions: Perfect for Rugby - Ground Conditions: Dry & Hard
With a pre-planned schedule to play 5 matches, all players were carded to play a total of 7 halves in total. Thankfully, all players were present and on time (thank-you parents), so no last minute adjustments were needed and the squad could focus on preparing for the festival.
With all festivals, it is always better to start playing our best from the outset, rather than have to make big adjustments to our game and play as we progress. Although we had a relatively late start in the tournament at 10:40, the boys all did their best to warm up and focus on the game and it was super to see the team hit the ground running as this usually bodes well for the rest of the day.
10:40 Game 1 vs Whitstable Win 5 - 0
11:40 Game 2 vs Beckenham Win 6 - 0
12:20 Game 3 vs Sidcup Win 5 - 0
13:00 Game 4 vs Tunbridge Wells 2 Win 7 - 2
14:20 Game 5 vs Old Elthamians Win 4 - 0
Despite the positive results above, they fail to show how enjoyable it was for us all to see this bunch of players (who have never played together before) in action. It was encouraging to see them playing for each other selflessly, with so few handling errors or technical mistakes - I cannot recall Sevenoaks giving away a single 7th tackle turnover or running the ball into touch. With so much possession and drawing the opposition players so effectively, the rugby resembled 1st class Fijian 7’s, scoring at will from anywhere on the pitch once the opposition had been neutralised by good running lines, passing and excellent support for the ball carrier.
On the defensive side of the game, Sevenoaks tackled consistently, creating pressure that forced the opposition to make mistakes, reclaiming possession. The ground was hard and some of the boys were happier using their physicality to grab their opponents in order to stop or slow their progress, rather than commit to tackling low and hard around the legs, stopping forward progress none the less.
The overall performance was excellent and it was so encouraging to see all the players were on the top of their game, with nobody having an ‘off day’. A very good way to sign off a season of Sevenoaks U9s rugby and I’m sure all the spectators were very impressed by the quality of the rugby and team spirit on display.
Bring on U10 Rugby for this group they are ready for more.
Sevenoaks took 2 teams on the short journey to Orpington for the 43rd Westcombe Park Mini Rugby Festival this weekend. At last year’s festival, as Under 8’s, Sevenoaks came away as festival champions, so expectations were high, and our players didn’t disappoint. Both teams came home undefeated after some of the best rugby seen all season. The members of Sevenoaks 2 (Barnaby Burns, Callum Le Roux, Edward Smith, Forbes Logan, Harry Edwards, Hugo Smith, Jimi Aiyeola, MacKenzie Copp, Raphael Landgrebe and Tiger Bussey) ran out for their first of 5 games at 1040 full of beans and came in from their final victory around 1430 just as enthusiastic.
Our relatively dry Easter and spring meant the ground was very hard as the players soon discovered. This dampened the boys’ early tackling enthusiasm during our first game against Old Elthamians, which resulted in tackles creeping high as the players tried to stay on their feet and a few unfortunate knocks. However, with their first half out of the way, nerves settled and the boys found their mojo again with some tremendous teamwork, including a very tense and successful try-line defence. Unfortunately, Raphie suffered a knock in the final minutes of the game and the precautionary decision was taken that he should retire for the day. On the final whistle Sevenoaks 2 had triumphed 6-2 against Old Elthamians.
Our next three games saw the boys’ confidence grow with some magnificent supporting play, heartening and selfless passing and some quite intuitive set pieces. When the dust settled Sevenoaks 2 had faced Old Dunstonians, Old Whitgifians and the hosts Westcombe Park and only conceded a single try. Sevenoaks, in return, had clocked up 27 points.
Our fifth and final game in the mid-afternoon was against Cranbrook and was likely to be our toughest of the day. Cranbrook had been taking a keen interest in Sevenoaks’ games all day and we suspected strategies were being developed. But our boys did not disappoint. Tackling was as committed and accurate as the coaches could have wished for, meaning Cranbrook had only limited opportunities to exploit their speed. The boys were also becoming more proficient in organising themselves in defence, at the breakdown and the restart. Sevenoaks didn’t get it all their own way, with Cranbrook getting 3 tries passed us through sheer dogged determination. However, on the final whistle it was Sevenoaks 8 Cranbrook 3.
A great day’s rugby and a wonderful way to close out the Under 9’s season. Congratulations to all our players and we now look forward to the Tour!