1st VII at Ardvreck 7s Tournament
On Sunday, eight brave souls made the long journey up the A9 to the wilds of Crieff. The sun shone but we all knew that we were in for a tough day. With two boys missing it was going to be a long afternoon of rugby against some really good sides.
Captain William T, Tommy DB, Alex F, Matt B, Jamie F, Thomas E, Oliver E and Mac R are made of stronger stuff however and they did not baulk at the challenge ahead of them. Instead they threw themselves into the fray with all guns blazing.
The first match of the day was against Mr Mill’s Fettes side. This team contains some big units and they were not afraid to crash the ball straight up the middle scoring two quick tries in the first couple of minutes. We soon worked out the narrow game plan, however, and were all over the Fettes attack like a cheap suit from that point onwards.
A try soon came, ably converted by Tommy and we were pushing hard for the winner (just stopped 3 feet short on two occasions) when time finally ran out. If the match had gone on for another minute we would surely have won the contest but were left to rue the two easy tries that Fettes scored.
We followed this match with two relatively straightforward victories over Strathallan and Cumberland outfit Austin Friars.
This set up a tense battle with eventual winners Belhaven Hill. The two sides flew into each other with St. Mary’s showing real grit in the hotly contested tackle area. It is a mark of just how far these boys have come and how much effort they put in on the field that at the end of 12 bruising minutes just one score separated the two sides. It was a match that could have gone either way.
Both sides played with real skill, invention and guts. It was arguably the tie of the tournament and the sheer grit, drive and pride of the St. Mary’s players drew praise from all who watched them play.
Having won two ties and lost two we entered the Charity Bowl competition and, after an enforced break due to an injury we ran out to a comfortable win over Cargilfield. This match was marked by a couple of remarkable tries for Jamie.
They were remarkable for both the deftness of touch that Tommy DB showed to stroke the ball over the defence to bobble up at the big Form 8s feet and for the fact that Jamie was still on those two feet. Illness had rendered him incapable of speaking in anything other than a squeaky whisper but he kept running, kept tackling, kept working for his team – amazing.
Having won the semi we swooped into the Charity Final against home favourites Ardvreck. We had been mercilessly stuffed when at full strength by the same side at Loretto.
However, we are a different side now. Ardvreck were knocked back in the tackle time and again and rucked off the ball when it found its way to deck. Our defence was brutal and there was no way through for the big lads on the other team. William T was a whirlwind at the breakdown and made break after break through knots of bodies in centre field.
Despite the vociferous backing of a large crowd the St. Mary’s boys would not yield. They refused to back down despite being a try down at half-time. They scored with the final play of the first half and then turned the screw in the second.
Slick hands and bullocking runs from Mac, Thomas and Matt forced the ball upfield before Alex F was released down the left to crash over out wide – held up!
The resulting scrum led to more pressure on the home side and Alex found himself facing two tacklers within the 5 channel. He would not be denied and crashed through their fierce challenges like a branded bullock to win the game right at the death.
Final Score: St. Mary’s 1st VIII 14 – 10 Ardvreck
St. Mary’s had won the Charity Final and elected to give the money raised to Epilepsy Scotland.
What a match and what a tournament.
Coach’s Notes: I have been coaching prep school rugby teams for quite a number of years. In that time my teams have played hundreds of matches but I have never been prouder of a team than I was on Sunday afternoon.
They played with more heart and guts than any group of boys that I have seen before. They played for each other and for their shirt in a manner that upheld the highest standards of our great school in the best possible way.
Well done to you all.
Mr T Rawson