The Under 18 Rugby Sevens squad made the long journey to St James' Senior Boys School in Heathrow and their dedication was clear, arriving at 5:50am!
Four hours later the squad arrived and went through a structured warm-up. The first game was against St Edward's School from Cheltenham, a regular on the sevens circuit and the boys knew they were up against it. The team took a while to get going before eventually taking the lead courtesy of some fine attacking play. Unfortunately for the boys the defence was misfiring and a lack of push from the middle men enabled St Edward's fast men to score two tries and draw level. Never the less the boys stuck at it, securing a turnover after the referee called last play. The ball was moved wide to Jack Weaver who was called up to the squad the night before and he finished the job. Abbey Gate College were off to a winning start!
The next game was against Lingfield School and it soon became abundantly clear that there were to be no easy games today. The boys' defence clicked into gear and after frustrating the opposition with some organised defence, the boys were able to take their time in attack. They say patience is a virtue and that was clear as the boys went through a passage of two minutes with ball in hand. Their ability to avoid contact and offload eventually bore fruit and in a short space of time 3 tries were scored. Lingfield hit back with one of their own but the boys were 2 from 2. Another excellent game played in great spirit.
After a short break, the third game was against the hosts, St James'. In what turned out to be the worst performance of the day, the boys managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat courtesy of a fine solo effort from Alex Thomasson.
After a rallying team talk from coaches Mr Tempest and Mr Rowett, the boys were fired up to face their nemesis in this tournament, Claires Court, having been beaten by them twice (both times in semi-finals). The team started brightly and some thundering tackles meant that their opposition knew we were in it to win it. Alex Thomasson and Tom White teamed up to put in a fantastic tackle that shook the bones of Claires Court. Unfortunately, their defensive efforts cost too much energy and the boys were careless in attack, squandering possession. No possession meant no tries and Abbey Gate College once against lost out to Claires Court.
Into the lunch break and the boys were beginning to feel the effort of some fast and hard hitting rugby sevens played in glorious conditions.
After lunch saw the boys put in a commanding performance against Trinity College of Devon. The boys were assured in attack, learning clear lessons from their previous encounter. A combination of clinical attack, and sustained pressure in defence meant that Abbey Gate College secured a fourth win from five games.
The last game was against ACS Cobham, a team the boys had played before and knew what their game plan needed to be. As the last game, the boys put in the performance of the tournament in the first half. Their attack was composed, organised and showed great team work, whilst defence followed the same structure that had frustrated their opposition a year earlier. Half-time and the boys were two tries to the good. Unfortunately, the boys could not sustain their efforts and despite surrendering the lead, then taking it again a last minute try meant that the game finished a draw. On reflection it was probably a fair result with Abbey Gate College and ACS Cobham tying for second place overall, meaning that Abbey Gate College finished the day as ISA National 7s Plate Winners.
The values for the day were effort, attitude and team work and they were there in abundance. It was a fantastic result with some great performances. Well done to all the boys who took part.
Published: Friday, 24th March 2017