Firstly, I have to say, congrats to Uttoxeter Rugby Club. They put together a well organised and structured day enjoyed by all players and parents.
Unfortunately, game wise, it was a mixed bag for Walsall Under 7's in what was their first ever festival.
For our Pool we were drawn against Stafford and The Barbarians.
Game 1 - V The Barbarians.
Unfortunately, one of the teams couldnt make it, so each team kindly volunteered a player or two to make up a BarBars team. For this game, Cain kindly volunteered to play for them, and I have to congratulate him for his attitude as he happily pulled on a different coloured top, despite playing against his own team. (Earlier, Taran had also kindly volunteered to play for the BarBars who were defeated by our next opponents Stafford.)
This was an entertaining game that saw Walsall go into half time 3 tries to 1 up and looking very comfortable. As has been shown throughout the latter stages of the season, Walsall showed that their support play had come on leaps and bounds. But what was even more impressive was the defence. Its something we have worked hard on the last couple of weeks and that 'wall' is definitely starting to show!
The second half started well, with some positive running and excellent tagging displays, and having scored our 4th try it looked like we would run away with it. But, credit to the fighting spirit of the Barbars they gave us a scare scoring 2 more tries, but we held on to win 4 tries to 3.
Tries from Toby (1), George (1) and Joshua (2).
Game 2 - V Stafford.
The second game saw us playing Stafford who we knew had also beat the BarBars.
This was a real tough game for our players, as Stafford were a very well drilled side. Despite some excellent lengthy runs from our players, Stafford covered and tagged extremely well, frustrating our chances. But our players showed exactly the same resilience in defence keeping Stafford at bay.
It was a low scoring game and with 30 seconds to go the score was 2-2, with Stafford getting the ball 15 yards from our try line. They made use of their 7 tackles and got within 5 yards of our line, but a last ditch push in defence pushed them out wide resulting in one of their players putting his foot into touch ending the game, keeping the score at 2-2.
Tries from George (1) and Joshua (1).
Having won 1, drawn 1, we were then through to the Quarter Final, where we were drawn against Barton.
Unfortunately, whilst waiting to play the next game, the heavens opened up for what was the worst downpour we have seen all season! As it hailed golf balls, we were left running for cover, admiring all of the lovely tents and awnings the other teams had bought along with them....as it was, we had about 6 umbrellas to accommodate 12 kids and about 20 odd parents. Fortunately, Uttoxeter had plenty of hospitality and first aid tents that were able to provide us some shelter for the next 30-40 minutes of torrential weather!
Finally it gave in and the festival continued.
Quarter Final - V Barton.
Unfortunately, this is where we met our demise. We played what turned out to be a very good Barton team. I wont go into detail, suffice to say we lost 6-2. I'd like to make excuses....the cold, the wet, etc etc, but the conditions were exactly the same for everyone. Barton just had some very good runners and our tagging let us down, which they duly capitalised on.
Tries from George (1) and (I'm sorry my paper was so soaking through at this point I couldnt write it down....so if you know who scored our second, please let me know!)
So, in conclusion, a disappointing end to what started a very promising day. But whatever the result, the kids and parents alike had a great day at what turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable festival. Full credit to Uttoxeter Rugby Club for making us feel extremely welcome and for showing our players and parents (in what was their first experience of a festival) what they have to look forward to during the rest of their Mini/Junior playing careers....