North Wales International Rugby Festival 2012
Squad: Jake, Ethan S, James, Jack, Liam, Ethan P, Nathan, Maddi, Sean, Dominic, Olly J, Josh, Kieron, Joel, Daniel.
NB 35 20 Liverpool Collegiate (Maddy 4, Jake, Nathan, Dom)
NB 20 5 Southern Nomads B (Nathan 2, Jake, Maddy)
NB 35 15 Northwich A (Nathan 4, James, Maddy, Jake)
Cup Semi-Final: NB 40 10 Southern Nomads A (Maddy 2, Dom 2, Nathan, Jake, Liam, Joel)
Cup Final: NB 15 20 Mold (Maddy, Nathan, Dom)
After spending sometime looking for a fixture New Brighton U10s suddenly found themselves invited to a festival billed as an “International” but in reality crossing the England/Wales border was about as International as it got.
The rules had stated that as the festival was being held in Wales then the WRU Pathway should be followed and as such the English teams would have to quickly adapt as there are slight differences in the rules at this particular age group. Scrums were to be 5 man uncontested, there were no line-outs along with rucks or mauls as we knew them, there was to be no ripping of the ball and it was 10 a side rather than the 9 that we were used to. Things didn’t quite turn out that way due to one reason or another as you will see. Another thing to come into play later was the hard ground as tackle after tackle eventually took its toll and not just on the Blues.
Saturday’s play saw us grouped together with Liverpool Collegiate, Southern Nomads B and Northwich A with Collegiate first up. The opposition could only muster 8 players for the day’s play and so the Blues loaned out a few players to bolster their ranks. Special mention to Kieron, Daniel, Liam and Sean in agreeing to play with the Liverpool team.
Collegiate started the brighter of the two teams and managed to get on the score sheet first, ably assisted by the lack of solid tackles from the Blues. But slowly and surely the NB boys started to play their game, warmed up and got stuck into their task. Jake, Maddi, Dom, Nathan and Ethan P all started to put there influence on the game and in the end class told. Collegiate stuck well to their game, ably assisted by 2 co-opted Blues, and the game was never truly comfortable for NB until the final whistle. Result NB 35 – 20 Collegiate.
An improvement was needed in the next game and we asked the boys to start faster and impose themselves on the opposition. Well we asked and we got a response. From what I recall NB were three tries up in no time and were putting in some big hits on the opposition. We started with a slightly different line up, ensuring that all the lads had played early doors and for most of the game were absolutely dominant. Some superb tackles from the smaller players, Joel, Ethan S, Sean and James led the way backed up with some lovely flowing moves with the ball passed down the line again and again to which the opposition had no real answer. This was more like it and the end result spoke volumes for the commitment of the whole team. Result NB 20 – 5 Southern Nomads
With the above results in the bag NB were already assured of top place in their group with one game still to go. This ensured that NB were through to the Cup semi final already irrespective of their next result. Again the Blues started fast and had scored the first try within a couple of plays. They were dominant from the first whistle until the interval with Nathan being the standout performer scoring all four tries. The second half was a different story. Perhaps too many substitutions were made by the coaches thinking that the game was already won and perhaps the players took their eye off the ball in more ways than one as Northwich managed to get over the NB line on three occasions to cause a little consternation on the sidelines. Errors were creeping into the game which hadn’t previously been the case. Missed tackles, intercepted passes and people being caught in possession after they had ran back for 10 yards. That said NB still managed to get over the Northwich line on two more occasions to help ease the tension and as such the NB bunch ended Day 1 unbeaten. Result NB 35 – 15 Northwich A.
Sunday was soon upon us and first game of the day saw us up against Southern Nomads A team in the Semi-final of the Cup event. The games were to be played over 30 mins as opposed to 20 as per pool games and if anything the ground was even harder than the previous day. If we wanted to progress to the final of the Cup event we would have to start fast and strong with none of the errors from Saturday’s last game. The warm up didn’t go well as two players took hard knocks on the playing surface and were limping around before the game had even begun. Things went from bad to worse as soon as the game started with Olly J and Maddy receiving knocks and both had to come off to receive some treatment. We were rapidly running out of ice packs!! In the game itself we started brightly with some sparkling play and crossed the opposition lines early with some good scores. The opposition would not lie down though with one runner in particular causing problems all game. But the NB defence help firm with one particular crunching tackle denying the Isle of Man team what I thought was a certain try….ouch!! It must of and it most certainly did hurt. Great tackle by Dom. The NB team played its heart out for the entire 30 mins of rugby and it was great to see the likes of Liam and Joel, both in their first season of rugby playing their part in a true team performance. Result NB 40 – 10 Southern Nomads A
Both New Brighton and Mold had remained unbeaten to qualify for the Final and against both the Southern Nomad teams the results and scores were almost identical. The final would be a close run thing to say the least and here came the crux of the matter. Full WRU rules would apply as we had expected. We had expected this to be the case from the very first game we had played in tournament but different teams and referees had approached this with very different ideas. One game we noticed started with 5 man scrums reverted to 3 man and then back to 5. In our own semi the first scrum formed with 5 on one side and 3 on the other! There was a severe lack of leadership from the officials and now we found ourselves in the final against a very competitive side from Wales who insisted the game should follow the WRU rules. Unfortunately the game, as a spectacle, suffered from our lack of knowledge of the Welsh rules and from an extremely poor referee whose decision making was at times beyond belief. That’s not just my opinion but one that was shared by the Mold coaches as well. Both teams tackled their heart out and ran themselves ragged. The score was tied 2 a piece at half time with frustration at the ref in danger of boiling over from the Blues perspective. The second half went very much along the same lines. By this time Maddy had long limped off due to a recurrence of an earlier knock and NB found themselves under constant pressure. Mold managed to get over the NB line on two more occasions with tries given when at least one was held up. Quite how the ref could see the ball grounded was beyond me for one as I was right alongside him at the crucial moment. This only added to the frustration for the NB boys but back they came again with a score of their own and right up to the final whistle were camped out on the Mold line.
Result NB 15 – 20 Mold
The final was played at breakneck speed and with total commitment from 2 very good sides. The Mold coaches were full of compliments about New Brighton and shared our own disappointment on how the game was officiated. It was just a shame the whole game was ruined by such an inept official. The silverware might have just eluded the NB lads at the final hurdle but they should be ever so proud of the effort they put in and in the way they performed over the two days competition. There were at least 6 players who were playing in a festival for the very first time and they all played their part either in scoring or making tackles alongside the more experienced players.
The future’s bright….its Blue ‘n’ White