Having endured the micro-climate of Billesley Common since playing football for Boys Brigade with our very own Under 9 Coach Liam Morrissy some 25 plus years ago ( ask Amie about my captaincy debut where I scored 6 goals-she LOVES this story!), it was a pleasant relief to turn up for the Moseley Festival with sun in the sky and barely any wind blowing across the grounds.
Our tent had been brought and set up expertly by Paul Mills, we’d not forgotten the match shirts and Coach Chris even managed to make it before the first game despite a mammoth stag do that encompassed the delights of Reflex on Broad Street.
The only blot on the horizon we could see was that Posh Richard ( I’m determined to make this nickname stick!) only had 4 Stella with his supplies for the kids and we’d been posted furthest away from the bar….
Examination of the programme showed that we had been allocated a tough pool with a Bournville team, Stourbridge, Lichfield, Droitwich and a Barbarians team for our squad of 14 to contend with. A murmur of apprehension went around the parents when we realised that we were scheduled to contest the last game of the day scheduled at 3:10pm.
In the spirit of the Festival I’ll refrain from talking about the results of the games and focus on our player ratings. Suffice to say that all of the teams did themselves credit, all of the players involved showed great courage and ability and the games were all played in the right spirit both on and off the pitch. As a reluctant referee myself, all of the games were managed with a lot of common sense and appreciation that the new Under 10 rules including rucking/mauling and uncontested 3 man scrums require a bit of coaching within the game as well as sticking rigidly to the new rules.
The fact that the Barbarians didn’t show up, allowing a couple of players from other teams to make up a true invitational Barbarians side actually enhanced the day in my view. What better way to learn about how to play the game than to be competing hard against each other one minute, then be team mates side by side the next?
Our player ratings:
Worked really hard on a sloping pitch. Great all-rounder whose tackle technique is arguably the best in the team. Showed some really nice touches.
Given space, always looks likely to use his searing pace to score. Easy to underestimate his core skills though which are strong. A couple of back to back tackles in the Barbarians game proved his physically bravery too.
His first game for the Barbarians was a revelation! Tough tackling, good clear-out work and some typically physical charges with the ball. Tired as the day went on, if he applies himself to conditioning work as much as he does to collisions this will be a breakthrough year for Ben in every sense!
Often first to the breakdown, his breakdown and scrum-half work cannot be underestimated. Never shies away from a tackle and when given the opportunity has strength and pace to add to our attack.
Just 3 weeks in Louey has been a revelation, with some great breaks and line breaks. As he catches the rest of the squad’s fitness levels up, the coaches are expecting big things in his first season.
Some tough tackling and trademark surging runs. Watching George North on Friday night perhaps led to a bit too much time spent on the wing early on? Continues to work hard on leading by example- the commitment shown to chase a Lichfield attacker 30 to 40 yards up the hill to prevent a certain try can’t be faulted.
( It is no secret that our attacking play is still a work in progress. Hopefully as we work on our core skills and feel more able to trust each other as a squad, we’ll be able to demonstrate some more guile and the rugby intelligence that we know is there rather than just the physical ability we’re relying on at present.)
Another of our early Barbarian volunteers. Growing in confidence, given a bit of space there is no doubt Ben is able to carry strongly. Need to work on keeping the ball in contact but some good progress in evidence here.
If you don’t stop him early, you’re in trouble! A couple of great tries matched with some tough tackling on much bigger opponents. The Stourbridge coach asking for a drugs test on this young man says it all!
Tenacious in both attack and defence. Fitness levels evidently much higher than this time last year. One of the rocks our squad is built upon.
The temptation to focus on stealing the ball in the tackle still outweighs the desire to tackle low! Both him and I have now learnt that if the ball is ripped that the player must then pass it immediately ( every day is a schoolday!). A real nuisance to the opposition at the breakdown and mostly legally….
Tackle count was at 3 going into the last game ( although Mom did confess that there was some confusion as to whether one of these was on one of his teammates!). Great to hear that his older sister has now entered the fray this season, so the battle is on to be the best player in the house!
Served up a tremendous arcing run for a try in the corner that was a replica of one he scored the week before at the Old Edwardians touch tournament. Great progess being shown.
As usual, some lovely jinking runs that prove what a threat he is with ball in hand. When it clicks that the physical stuff can be fun too ( which can take time), we’ll have a real player on our hands.
Last but certainly not least! Tackles hard, fearless at the breakdown and has a good turn of pace and leg drive in the tackle. Having joined mid-way through last season Will is becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet. Keep an eye out for his trademark dummy!
by Danny Ingram