The U13 rugby boys started their season earlier than usual this year with a pre-season tour to the Basque Country. A group of 28 boys gathered long before the sun made an appearance on Monday 29th October and were in full voice as we departed on the coach to Heathrow.
Immediately on arriving at our base we unpacked, kitted up and went out for 2 hour training session. The early season rustiness soon gave way to some lovely handling skills, slick feet and big hit on the ruck shields.
On Tuesday morning we travelled to Bayonne and trained on a magnificent 4G pitch in what was to be the only sunshine of the week. The boys picked up new contact skills and patterns of play quickly and this stood us in good stead later that evening, playing against a very big and physical Hendaye RFC side. After leaking 4 quick tries, the boys showed great composure, implemented some of the structure we had introduced and managed to regain control of the game. Great physicality at the break down provided some good ball for our back who used pace and skill to score some wonderful tries. A try in the final few minutes gave us the victory – by one conversion. In the second game of the evening the boys came up against a slightly smaller Hendaye team. They were however no less physical and far more fleet-footed. However, the boys stuck to their structures and once again some outstanding work on the ground provided great ball for our back to exploit and allowed us to run in 7 tries. After a fairly comfortable 7 tries to 4 victory we headed back to base, tired but fairly satisfied with the day’s work.
After a quiet Wednesday (with many sore bodies) and a third training session on the Thursday morning, the second fixture took place against Anglet RFC that evening. In a stunning venue (floodlit 4G surface) with a big supporting crowd we came up against a very well drilled, slick and physical team. We played 2 mixed teams in two 25 minute games against their team. The boys once again showed great composure in dealing with the constant onslaught. They communicated well, organised themselves in defence and there was no lack of willing carriers when we had control of the ball. As the game wore on we managed to turn over more ball and create our own chances. No official score was kept but Anglet proved to be worthy winners by at least 3 tries. They then invited us to play our strongest team in a final 20 minute run. After ensuring all our walking wounded were side-lined we got 15 willing players onto the field for a brutal 20 minutes where we unfortunately went down by 4 tries to 2.
In addition to the rugby the boys were treated to a Pelota lesson by the former Pelota World Champion, took in a surfing lesson in the rain in San Sebastian, had a couple of hours in a trampoline park whilst trying to seek refuge from the rain and spent an afternoon wondering through the picturesque town of Biarritz.
After a very busy week we returned to London on Friday feeling that we had accomplished a great deal on the rugby field, leaving the boys full of confidence and ready for the season ahead.
Many thanks to Mr Olver, Mr Maher and Mr Hind for taking the time to accompany the boys on this trip.