School Boys Battle it out at Home of Saracens
On Sunday 8 October, Claires Court 1st XV travelled to Allianz Park home of European Champions Saracens to participate in a curtain raising fixture before the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and last season’s premiership finalists Wasps.
Claires Court faced Queen Ethelburga’s School from Yorkshire, an auld enemy with whom Claires Court have contested numerous Independent School Association national finals in recent years.
Despite the ‘friendly’ label of the fixture, both sides were clearly keen to impose themselves and the opening exchanges were very physical and played at a frantic tempo. Claires Court got the better of the early arm wrestle and found themselves 7-0 ahead after inside centre Connor Thomas crashed his way over the line after some excellent phase play which involved all fifteen players in the Claires Court team. The lead was quickly extended after Teo Gaster reacted fast to the awarding of a penalty close to the Queen Ethelburga’s line, tapping and passing to Mason Scott who dived over the line from short range. As Claires Court tired towards the end of the half Queen Ethelburga’s managed to register two scores of their own, with first a penalty and then an unconverted try. The halftime score of 12-8 was a fair reflection of an evenly contested half in which neither side were willing to take a backward step.
The second half coincided with the arrival of the star studded Saracens squad to the stadium, many of whom stopped to watch as Claires Court took control of the game. The forward pack (quite possibly inspired by having international superstars in such close proximity) upped their work rate and physicality, and gave Kieran Grey the platform to kick for territory and keep Queen Ethelburga’s pinned in their own half. The period of extended Claires Court pressure was rewarded with another try. This time captain Todd Muil crashed over the line after another free flowing move. With time almost up Connor Thomas kicked a further penalty to seal an impressive 20-8 victory and round off a very special day for all involved.
Scott Harris, Claires Court Director of Rugby said, “It was a fantastic experience for everyone involved with the squad and an opportunity that doesn’t come round all that often. The boys were absolutely chuffed to put in such a strong performance, especially knowing that some of the best rugby players in the world were there watching the second half. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I’m sure it’s a day that none of our players will forget.”
Claires Court Squad: Teo Gaster, Matthew Hine, Billy Gore, Thomas May, Isaac Challis, Tom Stalker, Chris Allen, Todd Muil (Captain), Matthew Allen, Kieran Grey (Vice-Captain), Todd Lindley, Connor Thomas, Mason Scott, Max Williamson, Edward Cameron, Harry East, Olly Garratty, Max Keller, Max Kenchington.