This being a tour, off pitch objectives naturally took precedence but the boys were good enough to give the dads (and mums) some much needed downtime from their constant re-fuelling by taking part in some very decent rugby matches.
The 32 man squad split into two equal ability teams (Starsky & Hutch) and were drawn in separate groups on the Saturday. Hutch won their three group games against Stamford, Old Albanians and Camberley respectively while Starsky won came from behind to win their opener against Hinckley, drew against Ayleford and then withstood a strong comeback from Welsh side, Penalta to clinch a vital second win.
This saw both teams finish top of their groups but unfortunately the draw was such that Banbury 1 and Banbury 2 now became semi-final opponents. This resulted in a fiercely contested match which #1 edged 10-5 with the winning try coming from guest player Biggleswade’s Cole Martin who had settled into the squad as if born in a Banbury shirt. Banbury 1 duly progressed into the Cup Final while Banbury 2 was left to play out the third-fourth place play off against Ayleford from Kent. There had to be a slight re-jigging of personnel for the two teams as a number of injuries were picked up in the semi.
Penalta are no strangers to Banbury RFC as the Pitmen came and put one over our U14s earlier in the season so a tough game was on the cards. However, the Banbury lads were well up for the contest and started strongly. Concerted pressure saw us take a one try the lead and this was increased when Hector made a sharp break on the short side to make it two and a further score opened up a 15-0 lead at half time. The Welsh lads had pegged back two tries in Saturday’s game so the game was not over and their boys showed their character by increasing the tempo. However, they were hampered by a few injuries which prevented a sustained comeback and the scrum was also proving a problem with them not being used to shoving in the scrum. Consequently, Banbury increased their lead and ran out comfortable 25-0 winners. A good effort by our boys but respect is due to Penalta who came through two days of tough rugby to reach a final played under English rules.
Over on the adjacent pitch, Banbury 2 so nearly made it two wins on the day but ultimately Ayleford’s strength in depth proved too much and they ran out worthy 10-5 winners. Their frightening cheerleaders also deserve a mention for the vociferous support – what were those girls on?
A slick presentation ceremony back at Butlins was organised by the Leicester Tigers later in the day with George Chuter presenting the prizes. Harry H pocketed a tenner for flashing his Northampton shirt at Gorgeous George and the 2500 crowd and Alfie then led the boys in a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In!!!” from the stage. They weren’t expecting that at the Tigers but they took it in good spirit and they also deserve plaudits for organising a superb competition with good pitches, quality refs and decent venues.
I’m off to bed to nurse my liver……