Throughout this term, we have both been heavily involved in work leading up to our GCSE's. We have also been involved in the build up to U16 7’s Rosslyn Park tournament, and have competed in the Stowe 7’s tournament, in which we reached the quarter-final of the plate. Recently, we have been building up to today's Stonyhurst 7’s Tournament, and our hopes are high.
Mr Johnson and Mr Hughes have been building up our confidence and 7’s knowledge so that we have the best chance possible. The preparation has been intense and we have progressed to a much higher standard than previously where at the start of the 7’s season. Our training sessions normally consist of a contact session on Monday followed by a light session on Tuesday to avoid injuries before the actual tournament. Even with this well-structured plan, there have been injuries including the losses of Jonty Newbould, Harry Tomkinson and Jack Hodges ranging from a dead gluteus to a broken shoulder.
We are told that this year's Shrewsbury U16 7's squad is one of the best yet, so the pressure is on. Stonyhurst is supposed to be easier than the Stowe tournament, so without complacency, we must use what we have done in training and put it on the pitch so that we may achieve what we think we can.
We leave today, getting up at 6:30 to be able to get down to breakfast and then leave at 7:30. The journey is around about 3 hours and with Mr Johnson’s and Mr Hughes’ great music choice, we should be in the right frame of mind when we get there. Previously, we have enjoyed ourselves massively and this should be as much fun or better!
After a mind-numbing coach drive followed by Mr Johnson's favourite square drill, we finally walked onto the pitch at 11.00 to begin our first match.
We had a relatively shaky start and conceded a try in the first few minutes; Rufus Lichfield ran in our first try to steady our nerves. Our second also came pretty quickly as William Waterworth ran a switch that opened up a gap for Stuart Brown to waltz through under the posts. Half-time came and went, and with an energy boost from Mr Hughes’ famous jungle juice we showed our dominance with a try from Oliver Brown and then another from Marcus Bedson. Oliver Brown managed to convert all the high kicks that brought the final score to 28-7 - a good start to the day.
After an hour’s break, we again took up our places on the pitch. The first few minutes consisted of the Shrewsbury 7 maintaining possession in our own 22” followed by a line break from William Waterworth to start off are scoring streak. William Waterworth ran in another followed by two from Oliver Brown, one by Ben Listerbins and another to cap it off by Oliver Roberts. Sadly though Oliver Roberts received a head injury in a bit of a scrap and wasn’t deemed fit by the medical staff to continue playing for the rest of the day. The final score 38-0.
After two confident wins we came up against a very strong St Ambrose team. They scored two very quick tries in the beginning and maintained very good pressure on our team. Sadly, though, most of the boys had already admitted defeat and not even a very good solo effort by Oliver Brown could raise the moral of some of our players. The second half opened up more with multiple line breaks mainly from Oliver Brown and William Waterworth but a good scrambled defence disallowed us from crossing the line. With some strong running from the opposition left us with our biggest defeat of the season at 39-7.
With two big wins earlier on in the tournament we came up against the winners of group H, Kings Macc. Are pre-match warm up consisted of another one of Mr Johnsons’ square drills followed by an inspiring talk by Oliver Brown. We started the game with some of the best 7’s we played all season with Oliver Brown leading from the front to score are first try. Hugo Scott ran in our second but a well worked King Macc’s overlap gave them a try to end the first half. The score now stood a 14-7. The second half started strong with some good pressure but Kings Macc’s weathered the storm and scored another well-worked try. With full time looming the game became rather frantic but Robert Treasure seized advantage of a dog leg in their backline and scored under the post. All looked certain for a Shrewsbury win, but a good piece of individual skill by their centre allowed them to equalise at full time. The rules of the tournament state that in the event of a draw, golden try rules apply. After another toss of a coin for who kicks Shrewsbury won and opted for Kings Macclesfield to kick to us. As we were walking to our positions a rather small man, I think he was the King Macc’s coach, quoted from 300, “give them nothing, but take from them everything”. Hearing this, I had a feeling they would put everything into these final few minutes, I was right. A high kick went up from the kick off were and Ben Listerbins contested for the ball with two opposition player. This gave us the advantage as he managed to tap the ball back to James Moulson. James quickly acted on the situation and passed the ball out to Stuart Brown who was positioned on the wing. Stuart backed himself against his opposition and managed to beat him on the outside and ran in a try to win the match. The team celebrated as if we had just won the whole tournament.
Then it came to the daunting semi-final in which we would play a Stonyhurst side which had not yet lost that day. It was a very tight match, Stonyhurst got off to a good start scoring the first try under the posts but however their kicker managed to miss the kick putting us right back into the game. After a sensational bit of retaining the ball, Oliver Brown sliced his way through the centre to score under the posts and convert, 7-5 to Shrewsbury. Half time came, things like “keep it the same, keep hold of the ball and we can win this” were heard. So the second half kicked off and Shrewsbury were immediately pinned back on their own 5 meter line, however nothing could go through us. Some magnificent tackles from Marcus Bedson to stop a certain try really kept us in the game. 1-2 minutes from the end there was a chip kick from Oliver Brown who gained the ball on the bounce but then got smashed in a tackle and had to go off injured. Without the team’s captain, Shrewsbury had to keep their heads and try and grind out this win. And so, we got it to last play with Rufus Litchfield reaching skywards to collect the ball in the line-out, which was then passed down to Will Waterworth and - a moment which he will never forget - he passed the ball out thinking that it would be the end of play; in fact it was a penalty to Stonyhurst who tapped and went, created the overlap and scored. A sad moment for the boys but a good performance throughout the day. We may forgive Will in the future weeks, but now the banter is going to have to be on flow!
Ollie and Stuart Brown