U15’s end of season message
Posted on 24 April 2019
A tough day at the office doesn’t even begin to cover the intensity of both the games played on Sunday 14th April.
The game could and should have been closer in score if it wasn’t for two tries scored by simple attrition. Rugby’s principles of play are not complicated; go forward, with support, apply pressure, continue to do so until you score and Sussex managed this very well with two of their early tries. Having said that the boys did not allow their heads to drop and as in previous games showed grit and determination. The Middlesex boys were not going to allow Sussex an easy run and fought back valiantly. They didn’t like it when Omar moved to the centres, not a position he’s familiar with but caused huge disruption in. Credit to Charlie Gibbs and the pack as well as he won three against the head in the scrum.
Sussex 27 – 12 Middlesex
Right from the outset this was a physical game. The boys did let Sussex get under their skin, literally in some cases with some borderline challenges by Sussex. We knew Sussex were going to be strong as they had also beaten Surrey, but they had an aggression to their play that gave them the edge on the scoreboard. A couple of sniping plays by their number 8 in particular put the Swords under huge pressure. However we were far stronger in the pack and kept winning ball back in the ruck. Unfortunately losing a couple of key players early on put pressure on our backs and it seemed hard to keep possession. Frustration was obvious as the boys seemed to be at the wrong end of some questionable tactics. However they turned this frustration into points in the second half and showed an emotional maturity rare in this age group. Another of those games that had we another five minutes we may have edged the score, even the Sussex coaches tipped their hats to the boys continued efforts up to the final whistle.
Sussex 17 – 14 Middlesex
That was our last double header for the U15’s this season and what a series of games it has been. The teams have grown in confidence and their sense of camaraderie is obvious. In the selection process we were not just looking for skills or athleticism but for attitude as well and these boys have shown all the qualities that make great rugby players. On the pitch they have played unselfish open adaptable rugby, in training they have been punctual, committed and positive to ideas and off the pitch they have been helpful with kit and maintaining standards that we expect at Middlesex.
Next season both squads will all be invited back for trial on or around the 21st and 28th October. We will also be looking for extra nominations from clubs and schools as well as some of the boys that were close to selection this year but didn’t quite make it. We will be running two teams again but with a slightly larger squad of 60 players. For some of the boys, they may be asked to join the London Irish academy whilst others may face disappointment. We will make sure that conversations are had with Jack and the coaches at London Irish so we can best support the boys through this stage. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need advice.
The Middlesex U16’s squad will have a similar format with training sessions and four county games against Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire and Hampshire. The playing calendar runs from early January to end of February so the boys can then focus on GCSE’s! The line up of coaches may be different but I will remain the team manager for this age group next season.
A big thank you to Matt Gilmore and all those at Grasshoppers for the use of facilities and providing hot match meals and cold drinks as required. Thank you to Heather Stevenson for her patient care and support as our Physio. Our thanks to Bob Lawless, Peter Baveystock, Stephen Atkinson and Jack Pattinson for coming to watch the boys represent the county in all their games. My personal thanks to Nicky Fielder for her back office support and logistical planning.
Finally on behalf of all the coaches and support team, thank you to the parents for your excellent communication and passionate support for the boys as they play at this high level of representational rugby. The boys should be proud of themselves, they will always be able to reflect back and say ‘I played for my county!’ and as the years go by, the friendships and bonds they have started this year will last for a long time. We at Middlesex Rugby are all volunteers and giving our time is a pleasure when you can see how much it means to this group of young men. They are a testament to you all in their approach and attitude to the great game we call rugby and we all look forward to watching their playing careers for years to come.
See you in October!