Launceston tour to Old Leamingtonians hailed as a great success
Launceston show great resilience and character to come back from a disappointing start to play some great rugby and end the season on a high
Old Leamingtonians Official press release
Old Leamingtonians Rugby Club were delighted to host a junior festival of rugby this weekend for a group of U14s teams who travelled up to Warwickshire from RFU Clubs across England. The teams included Launceston RFC (known as the Cornish all blacks), with two other clubs from as far afield as Surrey (Effingham and Leatherhead RFC) and Suffolk (Woodbridge RFC).
All the teams had arranged a tour to the midlands to attend the Wasps v Saracens premiership match at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, to be followed by some competitive matches with U14’s teams on Sunday.
Through a family connection Launceston RFC asked if OLs could host the teams on Sunday 7th, which Old Leamingtonians were able to support.
The OL Junior section swung into action and organised a four way event in which each of the teams played all the others. A monster barbecue manned by volunteers provided players and spectators with sustenance throughout the day.
The 7th May weather was ideal for this all day outdoor event and all the lads involved thoroughly enjoyed their mini tour. All 6 matches (3 games for each club) were played on the main pitch at The Crofts with Effingham and Leatherhead proving the strongest of the contestants. Refereeing was generously provided by Warwickshire “Young Whistlers”
All of the teams swapped memorabilia and the Effingham club made a special presentation of their “Dressing Gown of Dread” to OL player Loic Dehaut who was voted for by the Effingham lads for his excellent play during the day!
Andy Hart, Head Coach of the Under 14s gathered everyone together for a closing ceremony where he thanked the players, their parents, the referees and all the volunteers for making the day so successful. He stressed how important it was for the youngsters to look after the game of rugby into the future and to cherish the friendship and camaraderie they will find through their involvement. He added that OLs is an excellent venue, which welcomes touring teams and also local players looking to try rugby for the first time.
Old Leamingtonians has teams across all age groups from Minis to Juniors, Colts, Seniors and Ladies, and new members are always welcome to come along to the club. In fact, next week OLs are hosting Rugby For Heroes to raise funds and awareness for military personnel. The event is open to everyone.
By Nick Crighton
Launceston match report
The Cornish All Blacks were back in the Midlands on another tour with committed travelling support dressed in Hawaiian attire. The hosts, Old Leamingtonians, had done a fantastic job to organise a mini festival and had ordered the best weather of the year so far. Sincere thanks must go to Andy Hart and his team and to Nick Crighton for facilitating the whole process.
Launceston were first up against Effingham and Leatherhead. The boys in green, yellow and black were fired up and caught the All Blacks napping. Hard running and controlled aggression in the contact meant Effingham were always on the front foot. They moved the ball with real precision and exploited the gaps out wide as Launceston defended en masse in the centre of the park like a team of under 9s. The All Blacks defence lacked speed, organisation and accuracy; they just couldn’t handle the pace or organisation of the Surrey team. A string of well taken tries meant the boys reached half time having taken both barrels in the face. 0-34
A rousing half time team talk (the hairdryer treatment) from Fred Bulet highlighted some uncomfortable truths and dragged the boys out of their stupor. They started the second half in a completely different frame of mind and really tried to take Effingham on at their own game. There was more passion, more commitment, more hard work – just more of everything. Great work from Tom Simpkins-Wright on his return from injury ensured some real go forward and changed the tone of the game. Launceston spent more time in the Effingham half and competed much more effectively at the breakdown with Freddie Ward and Finn Stiles disrupting the opposition rucks. Alex Maciver-Redwood, Finn Hilsdon and Tom Lowe produced a tackling masterclass as they turned defensive pressure into Effingham errors and turnovers
After sustained pressure from the forwards Ollie Tomkies, breaking blind, pushed a grubber through and followed up to score a well taken try in the left hand corner. 5-34
The score gave the All Blacks confidence and the second half was a very even affair with both teams going at it with real enthusiasm. Dylan Doherty, Billy Martin and Adam Howgill were excellent in the loose. A much improved performance by the boys showing real character after the disappointment of the first half. However, in the dying seconds a missed tackle and long range try from the speedy Effingham backs finished the scoring and ensured a deserved win. 5-39
Launcestons second game was against Woodbridge from Suffolk. Launceston took the positive attitude and momentum from the second half of the Effingham and were up and running quickly. Freddie Ward pounced for the first try with typical determination and finishing accuracy. 5-0
However, Woodbridge responded well and scored a good team try at the other end to level the scores. 5-5
Big Tom was a monster in defence gobbling up Woodbridge runners and was starting to make good ground going forward. He was rewarded with a try as he crashed through heavy traffic and pushed Launceston back in front. 12-5
After the break Launceston pushed again with Jack Goodman making some trademark bursts to go close on several occasions. After good approach work Ollie Tomkies found a gap and scythed through to score on the right. 17-5
The final score came from the rapidly improving Dylan Doherty. His industry and attitude were excellent as he punched through the defensive line to show remarkable pace to sprint in from the half way line. The conversion was well taken by Josh Bakehouse for his first Launceston points. 24-5
The final game of the day saw Launceston pitched against hosts Old Leamingtonians. The game was always going to be close and it was. It went to the wire. Neither team managed to dominate but there was some great rugby in both attack and defence. Great line-speed from Old Leams forced an intercept with the centre racing away to score under the posts. 0-7
With the crowd cheering both teams on as the final game built to a crescendo, Launceston built some momentum and raised their game. A penalty kick to the corner by Ollie was knocked in field by the Old Leams wing but Nicky Crighton followed up well, gathered the ball and dived over (with Great Uncle Nick Crighton watching from the stands).
The second half was scoreless with Old Leamingtonians pushing hard but the desperate Launceston defence holding firm. At the final whistle, both teams sank to the ground exhausted and rather hot. A perfect finale to a great day of rugby.
A wonderful touring experience for the boys with great weather and fantastic hospitality. A fitting end to a long but very enjoyable and positive season.