1st XV Rugby v Earlston High School
Wednesday 8th March 2017
On Wednesday afternoon the St. Mary’s 1st XV played their final match of the season against Earlston High School. The first match between the two teams had been a very close affair with St. Mary’s just edged out in a tight contest.
We knew that Earlston had some very strong players and that they would be tougher opponents than Aberlour House or even Merchiston Castle. To beat the visitors we would all have to play together, make our tackles and put in every ounce of effort that we could muster.
We therefore fielded the strongest side available with William Mac and Joseph W either side of Thomas. Wilfie and Dicken filled the second row with Liam, Jamie and Hamish M filling the backrow slots.
William T started at flyhalf with Tommy at 10 inside centres Harris and Lachlan. Matt and Alex started on the wings with Will S at fullback. Fergus H and Hamish R started on the bench.
The match kicked off and it was immediately apparent that we were missing a few players. The zip and bite that the forwards had displayed in the second half against Merchiston and throughout the Aberlour contest was missing. There were far too many passengers.
This meant that Earlston was able to spin the ball wide unopposed in attack and turn it over at will in defence. The Earlston team were skilful and had some big boys but they lacked the pace to trouble the St. Mary’s backline. However, they were able to spin the ball away from ruck and maul at will and busted weak tackles all too easily.
This led to the first try when six forwards stood rooted to the spot with the ball at their feet before swivelling their heads to watch it spooned down the line and run in under the posts. For some reason they were unwilling to commit to the rucks in the numbers required to effect the Earlston backline.
Thankfully, there were a number of St. Mary’s players giving their all. In the forwards Hamish M, Jamie and Joseph stood out for their workrate and willingness to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. William T, Harris and Lachlan were superb in the backline; making tackle after tackle and looking to attack every time they had ball in hand.
Earston scored twice more before half-time with well-worked but simple moves that could, and should, have been snuffed out earlier. This knocked any remaining wind out of the home team’s sails and heads dropped a little.
The second half performance was better but the two tries scored by the visitors were soft at any level. One came directly from a lineout throw on the 22 and the second saw the Earlston 12 run straight through a huge hole entirely unopposed.
We came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but were too keen to kick away good ball or did not work hard enough in support of our runners.
We were also very unlucky to lose Joseph to an unfortunate injury (collar bone) as he tackled one of the bigger Earlston boys. Joseph has been, consistently, one of the best boys on the park this term and last and we wish him a very speedy recovery. I hope that he will be wearing his school uniform and not that hospital gown when he next returns to the Hamilton Building!
As I explained to the team afterward this was a massive learning experience. There is absolutely no shame in losing a rugby match. The nature of sport is that there are winners and losers. However, if you refuse to drop your head, to bend the knee, to stop trying you will enjoy every match that you play in; win, lose or draw.
photographs by Ms D Wood
Men of the match: Captain Harris and Joseph; Harris has led his men superbly throughout the season and had an excellent game with turnover after turnover against his Earlston clubmates. Joseph had another excellent game and his loss from injury was a real blow. This boy is seriously tough. He even asked if he could get back on the pitch!
Coach’s Notes: As a boy, I played for a prep school team that conceded big scores on a number of occasions. However, I quickly came to the realisation that, as a player who loved to tackle and turnover ball over everything else, I had an unlimited opportunity to do what I enjoyed most. If I played my hardest the result became almost unimportant and I never felt that I could have done more to effect it.
Try your best, give it your all and enjoy every moment that you are out on the pitch. The results will look after themselves.
Mr T Rawson
Jules Birdsall, 09/03/2017