As the sun rose over the beautiful and iconic Cheltenham College pitches the Old Pat’s U11s woke up, full of excitement, donned their kit and headed out the house ready to put into action everything we have taught them.
Having completed a thorough warm up the team played their first match against familiar opponents, Stow RFC. This proved to be a great game, with both teams playing some impressive rugby. However, the difference between the two sides in the end was ball retention. Old Pats, playing up a surprising slope, were outstanding at the ruck and moved the ball to the wings very effectively to win 3-1. A great start to the festival.
In the second game, this time against a touring side from Chiswick RFC, things did not go as smoothly. Poor ball retention and an inability to move the ball wide resulted in a lack of scoring opportunities and too many turnovers. Chiswick seized the momentum this gave them to go 2-0 up with some great pace down the wings. Pleasingly, Old Pats began to get a foothold in the game, scoring to make it 2-1, but sadly the clock was against us in the end (who knew 10 minutes was such a short amount of time).
The third game of the festival saw us face another unknown quantity in Brockworth RFC. Unfortunately, Old Pats were again playing up the hill and were faced with a large opposition aided by gravity. However, continued poor decision making (running into a congested midfield, rather than moving the ball wide) and a lack of intensity in rucks was a far bigger problem. The Old Pats were eventually rewarded for some of their better decision making with a couple of nice tries, but a score line of 4-2 to Brockworth was definitely a fair reflection of the play.
After an hour break for lunch (how civilised) the coaches gathered the boys and refocussed them on the basics of rugby. These were only partly listened to though as in their next game, versus Witney RFC, an inconsistent performance ended in a draw (2-2). There were some real positives to take from the game as well as a reminder for the players that to be successful in rugby there are lots of unglamorous jobs that need to be undertaken.
Pleasingly, by the time we kicked off the next match against Dursley RFC the boys seemed to have got the message. A much more consistent performance saw players supporting the ball carrier, clearing out rucks and moving the ball to the space quickly and effectively when the opportunities arose. This resulted in a final score of 6-1.
In the last match, versus a very strong and physical Longleven’s RFC team, the squad finished the day on a high. An immense defensive effort managed to repel wave after wave of very direct runners and the quality of rucking on show was a credit to all those involved. Unfortunately, Longleven’s edged the game (1-0) at the final whistle after Old Pats failed to capitalise on the chances they created (a 1-1 draw would probably have been a fair reflection on the game).
A huge thank you to Gloucester Rugby Club and Cheltenham College for organising such a great day of rugby. Everyone had such a great day and the players definitely learnt a lot from the experience, which will improve them both as a team and as individuals.
Finally, thanks to everyone at Old Pats that were involved in enabling the players to enjoy the festival. It is safe to say that the already strong reputation of Old Patesian’s RFC was only enhanced further as a result of the good standard of play on show and the excellent behaviour and attitude of the players and coaches!