Last weekend, the Old Patesians U16 team played their last game of junior rugby.
For the record, and because some of you may be interested, we played Stratford RFC and scored more points than they did. But the day wasn’t really about the score. In fact, it never really was.
Many of these boys began playing rugby, actually on that very same pitch with Chris Raymond, at the age of four. Over those twelve years, we’ve grown, literally (they’re huge now) and metaphorically as a squad, always sticking to the Pats ethos.
I’m pretty sure we’ve won more than we’ve lost but again, it’s not about that. These lads now are a closely bonded group of friends who are looking forward to progressing to colts rugby. The majority of the boys are making that step and it’s credit to the system at the club that so many of them want to stay with us.
Because many clubs would have discarded the lesser players at younger age groups simply for being slower to develop. Last Sunday we fielded every player available to us, some 37 boys which, whilst a nightmare for the team manager, was a ringing endorsement of the policy of mixed ability teams.
That we still have so many players, desperate to get on the pitch shows it works. They can all play too!
Afterwards, the group gathered at the clubhouse comprising thirty seven players, seventy parents and supporters, ten coaches and several dogs who frankly were more interested in the BBQ.
Some beer was drunk in the sunshine and lots of memories, captured via the photo montage running on the TV, were recalled.
Hugo gave a mercifully brief but characteristically enthusiastic tribute to Jonesy and Ali for their roles in organising and nurturing the team over eight full seasons.
Presentation signed shirts from the players and squad photos were gratefully received.
The emotion was obvious to see, and they were still sober at this stage!
This club and this team in particular mean a great deal to both and it’s great news that the two of them continue to be involved as colts coach and junior chairman, respectively.
This stage is over but there’s always next season. It’s been brilliant!
Allez les Pats!
Tom Perris – U16 Coach