The Exiles’ squad: Daniel , David , Euan , Finlay , Geoffrey, Inigo, Jack O, Jack Sho, James, Jay, Kieran, Lewis Br, Lewis Bro, Luca, Luke, Marcus, Nathan, Oliver, Rafe, Richard, Rory, Tom, Tom W, Tommy and Xavier
Amid the rain, wind and quagmire that was the 2012 London Irish Festival, Chipstead Exiles (“U10s”) fielded two Teams at this traditional end of season fixture. The fortunes of the Exiles squad were mixed with the Golds continuing to improve but falling short, and the Blues turning in a barnstorming performance to win the Plate final.
For the Golds, Bowl finalists at the Mitcham Festival and Plate winners at the Beccehamian Festival the series of matches today were an indication of the improvements that continue to be made and the improvements that need to be made. In the series of matches against Battersea, London Welsh, Teddington and London Irish the Golds came up against quality opposition who played to the conditions and were able to exploit cracks in the Golds’ defence. There were highlights to the Golds’ performances with some notable tackles made; a point noted by the coaches and some proud parents. On occasion the Golds broke through the oppositions’ defensive line – but these incursions were infrequent enough to be notable. This is not to take anything away from the significant progress the Golds have made this season.
Playing against the better teams highlights areas for development. Rugby remains, at heart, a very simple game; the ultimate team game. On the field you rely on your teammates and they rely on you. This requires a never give up approach, a willingness to offload the ball to a team-mate (if there is an advantage in doing so), it means having the courage to go into contact, or going to ground with intent to secure the ball. It means doing the basics as second nature and then building on from there. It means being resolute in defence and ruthless in attack. It means having trust in those around you and knowing that they trust you. It means not taking a backward step. It means going onto the pitch and being able to say "I am part of a Team!"
For the Blues, the pool matches against Ealing, Topsham, Richmond and Chobham saw some real final day highlights. At this level the physicality was demonstrable with the intensity of more than a few of the rucks, mauls and tackles making many on the sidelines wince. However even through the wind and rain, the subtly of some of the passing and support play was an illustration of the high standard of rugby on display at this level. The Blues went through the group stages undefeated; as indeed did Ealing. The latter team - with whom the Blues drew in the first match - on the basis on try difference alone made it through to the Cup final. The Blues faced Teddington in the Plate final.
After two ‘full on’ halves of rugby the Blues emerged with another win (2-0) and another piece of silverware for the Cabinet. Five matches played no defeats and no tries conceded. No tries! Naught, nix, none, nothing, nought, zero. Nice way to end the season.
To the whole squad; well done! Given the conditions today, that everyone turned out and played to be best of their abilities is a testament to the Exiles’ spirit. To the parents who braved the elements and provided very vocal support from the touch-line, thank you. To the Coaches – who we should remember volunteer their time and spend many, many hours discussing; and many, many hours on e-mails planning strategy and team selection - well done.
Thus ends the 2011 – 2012 season. A full summary of the year just gone will be issued out during the summer; but next date in the diary is the BBQ next week. See you there.