U13 home vs Worcester at
Magnificent in the Mud
It is with increasing optimism that I raise my worn & weary limbs from the horizontal on Sunday mornings. At this time of year, like many of you, I suffer from Six Nations fever, & the grass roots antidote of age group rugby is essential for partial recovery. Although should Mr Gatland mastermind a Paddy-Whacking next Saturday it is unlikely that I will be free of the condition for another 12 months at least.
It was wild, wet & windy as we arrived at the ground. The prospect of Premiership Rugby giants Worcester Warriors seeking revenge for last year’s shock defeat was of further concern, as was the limited resources available for selection.
Injuries, illness, social engagements & defections meant that Bredon were only able to field 11 players. Therefore, it was at best unfortunate when Denby was injured during the warm up & deemed unfit to start.
The term warm-up can be misleading. Over the years I think the long-suffering parents of the Under 13’s have dreaded the pre-match period. Occasionally sustained by hot refreshments and shielded by weatherproof haute couture, it is nevertheless inevitable that the game will only start when our extremities have started to lose sensation & the ambient moisture has seeped through all forms of footwear & clothing and is intent on chilling our very bone marrow. Not even Sergei’s Yak specials can withstand the micro-climate that is the kids’ weekend sports field.
Worcester had arrived eagerly with a large, predatory squad. They viewed the Bredon boys confidently, noting the limited numbers, almost licking their lips with anticipation. It reminded me of a large pack of hyenas surrounding a small herd of nervous antelope on the open savannah – during the Monsoon season. Steve employed his legendary charm & perhaps a trifle reluctantly (disappointed that they couldn’t unleash all their Warriors at once) they agreed to play 11 a side.
The coaching team sheepishly returned to their Worcester counterparts, and announced that during short interval we were down to 10. I think all concerned agreed that the they should probably start before any further mishaps were to befall our remaining players.
Negotiations were conducted & eventually it was agreed that we would play 11 a side. Worcester produced the smallest member of their squad (Rhys) who graciously agreed to guest for us. Perhaps all the bigger boys that Bredon would there for the taking and were looking forward to trampling us into the saturated turf. I believe this is a public school tradition, dating from Edwardian days.
Teams were selected on size, and after being funnelled into a shallow river bed, the bigger, stronger boys were pitted against the weaker students. A small pig would be tossed into the mud & the excited giants vented their adolescent frustrations on the poor unfortunate weaklings. The game was sanitised over the years, moved into a small square room and renamed “Squash” – eventually becoming a ‘sport’ played by middle class individuals who aren’t posh enough to do fencing and too physically able to surrender to golf (yet).
The elements & playing surface promised to be equally as challenging as the opposition. Icy pools of standing water were apparent on the heavy, muddy pitch, whilst the swirling, bitter wind & occasional blinding sunshine were destined to challenge all the players’ fortitude.
Our gallant band featured a back line of Morgan Euan, Alfie, Ollie, Josh & Denby with Harry, Ben W, Ben P, Jimmy & Sam in the forwards. Alfie & Euan each played a half as a wing/full back and as scrum half. Alfie relished the conditions, producing some important tackles & a moment of brilliance as he mud-slid to beat the opposition to the loose ball & despite the attention of two tacklers presented the ball to his supporting team-mates.
From the first kick off the urgency of Bredon’s defence pressurized Worcester & disrupted their possession time and again. The midfield tackling of Morgan, Josh & Ollie was aggressive & solid, forcing Worcester to turn back on the inside channels where the combined efforts of the forwards plus Euan & Alfie snuffed out the Warriors’ attack. Much like the Welsh defence, Bredon repelled all but one of the visitors’ efforts & the win was based on a fantastic defensive performance.
This team effort was epitomized by one moment of individual brilliance. Worcester fielded a Nemesis Boy lookalike – he scored one try with an arcing run from his own half & threatened again with a break from deep in his own half. He beat the first line of defence & it seemed destined to score. Most of the players & spectators were resigned to that fact. Ollie had not read the script & tracked back to execute a magnificent cover tackle bundling the Nemesis Imposter into touch with text book technique. It lifted the whole Bredon side & deflated the visiting Warriors.
In attack the boys showed admirable handling skills & maintained an intent to move the ball into space. Forwards & backs combined, offloading and when they needed to taking the contact. There was innovation too, Morgan’s “Biggaresque” cross kick was touched down by Euan – only for the ref to disallow the score. Euan was clearly unhappy at being adjudged offside & voiced his disappointment at length. I assume father & son will come to a truce at some stage.
Denby recovered sufficiently to start the second half. Back up to 12 a side – nearly a full complement. However, it was short lived as Denby was forced to leave the field after being crumpled under a heavy tackle. A larger Warrior joined the Bredon ranks at this point, certainly more eager to join the antelopes who were skipping happily towards victory whilst the hyenas were licking their muddied wounds.
During the game Ollie Nicholls added to his try tally & his growing reputation with a series of crucial tackles & 4 fantastic tries. Two further excellent team tries resulted from fine interplay finished off by Josh & Worcester guest winger Rhys, - (they didn’t see that one coming).
Jimmy & Sam suffered knocks late on eventually encouraging Sean to blow up for full time at which point Bredon had 8 (relatively) fit players left.
We retreated to the Star Bar – where I enjoyed the lovely baps & was about to quaff a celebratory Guinness when the Monkey reported his kit had disappeared whilst he was in the shower.
The absence of Abracadabra Junior suggested that this was no conjuring trick – so I went to investigate. Unfortunately, due to a lock malfunction I was compelled to use the “Doc Martin” key – old habits die hard. Fortunately, the Chairman sanctioned my action & knows a local chippy who can do the repairs.
Good luck to whoever finds the missing kit, I believe that Monkey expects it to appear miraculously clean & fresh in his kitbag by Sunday morning – gumshield to be rinsed and left on top of the kit.