Title Champs for the Third Time
Claires Court U16 7s team headed to Maidenhead Rugby Club last Wednesday to contest the ISA National U16 7s competition. The competition was structured into two pools with the top two teams from each competition progressing through to the semi-final. For some of the Claires Court squad this was their first 7s rugby competition in a long time, so a relatively comfortable victory over St. James’ School in their opening match was just what they needed to get all squad members some early game time and the team’s defensive and attacking patterns up and running in a variation of the sport that contrasts so dramatically to the 15 a-side game.
Equally comfortable wins against Mark College and Rushmore School in the group and then a semi final against Quinton House School meant a second meeting with St. James’ school who Claires Court had already beaten 29-5 in the opening game.
The final was an absolute classic, with two contrasting styles going toe-to-toe. Claires Court’s direct, powerful attacking play and aggressive defence competing against St. James’ more patient, attractive and ‘traditional’ brand of sevens rugby. St. James’ took an early lead but Claires Court drew level almost immediately and then took the lead on the stroke of half time. The second half appeared to be petering out without much change to play, but then after some poor decision making in defence St. James’ managed an equalising score. As the second seven minute half drew to a close it was a case of which of the two teams would be holding the lead when the referee called time on a thoroughly entertaining final. Neither side relented and the score was locked at 12 - 12 when the final whistle blew, meaning three minutes of sudden death extra time. With the advantage of kick off Claires Court were able to kick deep into St. James’ half and then trust in their excellent defence to not let St. James out. Eventually Claires Court’s defensive pressure paid off and after turning the ball over it was passed to Year 10 flyer Edward Cameron who was able to evade the despairing clutches of the final St. James defender to score the ‘golden try’ handing Claires Court their third Consecutive ISA National U16 title and their fifth in six years.
Squad: Teo Gaster (Capt), Tom Crossfield, Peter Lowe, Adam Fairley, Jamie Vowles, Oscar Ackerman, Rupert Miller (Year 10), Max Williamson, Paul Bartkowiak, Jonny Matthews, Edward Cameron (Year 10), Sam Rolfe