1st VII at Mowden Hall Rugby 7's Tournament
Sunday 12th March
On Saturday afternoon an intrepid group of senior boys made the short hop over the Carter Bar to Mowden Hall in Northumberland.
We were confident. We had an excellent squad led by Lachlan and packed with veterans; Harris, Hamish M, Thomas, William, Will, Tommy, Jamie, Alex; and a desire to get the results that we deserved.
We knew that we would face some tough opposition. Bede, Dame Allan, Terrington, Mowden, Ampleforth, Austin Friars, Barnard Castle…..this was a bit of a who’s who of Northern English rugby! St. Mary’s was the only team from North of the border.
St. Mary’s found themselves in a pool with Mowden Hall and Ampleforth. Having watched Mowden beat Ampleforth in a hard-fought contest we knew that we would have to be on our mettle.
We need not have worried as the Green Machine blew away the Ampleforth side by 8 tries to nil. The crushing defence and continuous harrying of the man in possession forced errors from the Yorkshire side and we had the firepower out wide to run in the tries when the opportunity arose.
Drop restarts kicked by the scoring team meant that Tommy was able to hang up kicks for Harris to gather. St Martin’s stuck at a tough task right to the end and should be highly commended for their commitment.
Final Score: St. Mary’s 8 – 0 St. Martin’s, Ampleforth
The win over Ampleforth set up a keenly anticipated contest between St. Mary’s and hosts Mowden Hall. It is fair to say that things had not gone as we had hoped in the XV a-side contest last term. There was therefore a great opportunity to right that wrong and the visitors took it with both hands.
The St. Mary’s team were all over the home side like a cheap suit. They crushed the Mowden runners into the tight spaces where big tacklers like Thomas, Hamish and Lachlan lurked. They pushed them out wide for the speedsters Will, William and Harris to bundle into touch. Tommy, Alex and Jamie played very well with each making their tackles and retaining possession well.
Mowden Hall managed one try but were swimming against the tide. One moment captured the balance of this contest as Harris smashed one Mowden boy as he tried to run the ball away from his tryline. The big Form 8 wrapped up the player and carried him, still in possession of the ball, the five yards back over his tryline. Captain Lachlan was on hand to rip the ball away and dot it down at his feet. Some of the rugby played by St. Mary’s was excellent with lovely offloading out of the tackle, well-structured running moves and teak-tough, copper-bottomed tackling. In short; Mowden were bullied for the entire 14 minutes and the final whistle was greeted with relief by the home side. St. Mary’s were elated having put in a superb performance to win their way into the final stages of the Cup Competition.
Final Score: St. Mary’s 5 – 1 Mowden Hall
By topping Pool B, St. Mary’s had worked their way into the Finals group with fellow leaders Austin Friars and Barnard Castle. Austin Friars had had a tough time up at the Ardvreck 7s Tournament in the Autumn Term but boasted a big, powerful and very quick runner. The game plan to contain this lad was quickly put together and the match kicked off. The match proved to be something of a mismatch as the St. Mary’s combination of skills, pace, power and red-blooded commitment proved to be more that their opponents could handle. They quickly scored two tries before adding a further brace in the second half. The boys were playing wonderful, flowing rugby and ran out worthy winners against Austin Friars.
Final Score: St. Mary’s 4 – 1 Austin Friars
The St. Mary’s win against Austin Friars set up a most unexpected final against rugby superpower Barnard Castle. In recent years this Northumberland school has pumped out a string of internationals including Mathew Tait, Tim Visser, Rob Andrew the brothers Underwood etc. They had arrived with a squad of twelve players and, playing St. Mary’s straight after the Austin Friars contest, were able to make that advantage pay off. By injecting fresh legs in the second half they were able to run in the two tries required to put the contest to bed.
St. Mary’s fought valiantly throughout the tie but the Barnard side were relentless and poured on the substitutes to maintain the pressure. The final ended with St. Mary’s tantalisingly close to victory. Barnard Castle were a very good side and would possibly have won the contest with the regulation ten players.
Final Score: St. Mary’s 1 – 3 Barnard Castle
The final game drew to an end a most enthralling day’s rugby where St. Mary’s had arrived as unknown underdogs before setting about their opponents with a skill and passion that took many by surprise. However, anyone who had seen them play at Ardvreck would recognise the skills and application that make this a very dangerous Rugby 7s side.
To come second in a big 7s tournament South of the border is a thrilling achievement. I have no doubt that those other schools present will have a much better appreciation of St. Mary’s after Saturday’s exploits.
Player of the Tournament: Harris; Harris was unanimously selected as the tournament’s top player and presented with a ball signed by Newcastle Falcons. His range of skills and tricks is amazing for someone of his age. I hope that this fine lad continues to develop his skills in this wonderful sport.
Coach’s Notes: Winning this tournament would have been the icing on the cake for this side. However, they came up against a very good Barnard Castle side in the final and just ran out of steam when the subs poured on. They should all be extremely proud, as I am, of a wonderful day’s rugby played in the best possible spirits. Well done indeed.
Congratulations to Hamish, Lachlan, Harris, Thomas, Jamie, William, Will, Alexander and Tommy.
Jules Birdsall, 14/03/2017