Despite ending the day unbeaten, an unlucky U10 team came up just short at the Hornet’s Mini Rugby Festival in Weston-Super-Mare.
Having reached the final with some stirring rugby in difficult conditions the team lost out by virtue of the opposition having scored first after the game was tied at one try each.
Even though it was a disappointing end to a fantastic day, the A team did themselves proud, showing that they can match or better most teams they come across in their age group. Having only conceded one ‘proper’ try in the whole tournament the team can feel doubly disappointed at the way they missed out on the winner’s trophy.
Weston-Super-Mare may have been a new venue for this year’s end of season tour but Bracknell again performed brilliantly in conditions which could not have been more different to the hard pitches and sweltering temperatures experienced at the Vectis Festival over the previous two years.
Arriving at the Hornet’s ground to find large puddles covering the pitch was an ominous sign that conditions would not suit Bracknell’s expansive running style. In a vain attempt to improve the conditions underfoot Chris ‘The Brush’ Warner (henceforth to be known as Basil) took to trying to sweep the water from the pitch, like a latter-day King Canute floundering to turn back the tide.
As the heavy rain showers came and went during the day and the playing area churned into a sea of mud it was clear that this was going to be a day for only the most committed of teams, a day where forwards would need to dominate in the style of Olde England. This was going to be a ball up the jumper, old fashioned slog-fest.
It is probably no surprise that Bracknell’s best win came in their opening game against Ivybridge. For the first fixture of the day the pitches were at their best, and as the few remaining tufts of grass disappeared into the brown sludge, so the ‘Green Peas’ belied their traditional sluggish start by running out convincing 4:0 tries against the Devonians.
However, as the day wore on the games became harder and more physically demanding. Several parents commented on how so many of the Bracknell players seemed to grow in stature as the battles intensified, until it was pointed out that this was simply the mud gathering under their boots.
An assured performance against the hosts chalked up the second win of the day, and further victories against Biggleswade and Abertillery set up an eagerly awaited semi-final against Swansea Uplands.
As expected in a game between representatives of Wales and England this was a hard fought battle. Bracknell took the lead and then, as the game moved into its closing stages, put up sterling resistance to Swansea’s efforts as they searched for an equaliser with some fine passing moves. The A’s built an impenetrable defensive wall, constantly throwing back the Celtic hordes until a bizarre decision from the referee in the closing seconds resulted in a try for the Welsh, despite their player being brought down a full five yards short of the line. Fortunately the decision had no affect on the end result as Bracknell, having scored the first try, was through to the final anyway, but it was a disappointing end to a tough, physical game and it prevented Bracknell maintaining their fifth clean sheet of the day. It wasn’t long however before the ‘first try rule’ would come back to haunt Bracknell.
The final was to be contested against Keynsham RFC who had won this tournament for the previous three years and, as expected, proved to be the day’s most difficult and savvy opponents, and also rather more ‘experienced’ at set pieces. With Keynsham scoring early in the first half Bracknell knew they had to respond with two tries if they were now to win the tournament. Despite pulling one try back, they found their opponents too difficult to break down a second time and the game finished in a draw. At the end the ‘Green Peas’ knew they had given everything but had been pipped in the most unfortunate of circumstances. And as their opponents sang ‘We are the Champions’ Bracknell could only conjure up thoughts of a different song by Queen, ‘It’s A Hard Life!’
Congratulations anyway to the whole of the A team on another fantastic performance and another unbeaten festival.
Bracknell U10 A Team
Harry Wo, Harry Wi, Will F, Will H, Doug, Michael O’D, Michael D, Daniel, Nathan, Callum, Paul, Mackenzie, Tom, Oliver.