Wimbledon B Festival U8 festival report (from 29 September 2013)

It was a perfect day to host a tournament. The weather Gods were certainly smiling upon us as the temperature was warm and the air was still and dry.

The squad turned up to find our new military-grade gazebo had been erected, the pitches marked out and the scoreboard and operations centre readied well before the rest of us had even left home. The new Gazebo is a fine piece of kit. It has “Wimbledon RFC Minis and Youth” scribed along its 15 foot edge and was rumoured to have cost the club £650 (or was that for the job lot – no one was quite sure). So coaches and parents fumbling around to erect a 10 year old 3 man tent are a thing of the past, at least they will be once the club provide us a lorry to carry the new gazebo around in as its size and weigh will turn even the biggest of 7 seaters into a 2 seater when it comes to transporting it to future festivals.

The format was 2 groups of 5 teams followed by a Cup final (for group winners) and a Plate final (for the runners-up). Our squad of 9 boys, eagerly chewing on either recently purchased gum-guards or freshly baked biscuits made an excellent start and won their first game against Effingham and Leatherhead. Next up was Teddington, the hardest opponents of the day and following a poor first half the boys managed to pull back to 5-5 with less than a minute to play. Unfortunately Teddington used the possession to their advantage and despite some good defence managed to put down the winning try on the whistle after what the ref deemed to be only one step had been travelled following a last ditch tag.

Our performance in the first two matches was one of eager attacking, great twisting runs with good support play and quick accurate passes leading to dramatic tries. But this was all too often undermined by unorganised and seemingly hesitant defence. The issue was quickly diagnosed by coach Dan who instigated some between-match tagging drills and when the boys ran out for their third match there was a marked improvement. The entire squad fired and we saw some of the best rugby of the day. A try-fest ensued and Wimbledon won the match, against Esher comfortably meaning they needed only a draw in the final match against local rivals Wimbledon Warriors to make the plate final. By now the boys had silverware well and truly in the sights and a draw was never going to satisfy them. They continued the momentum and the winning result was never in doubt. Plate final here we come!

It seemed Old Reigatians had a similar strategy of fielding their strongest 6 boys for the final and the teams were evenly matched. In what was the most nail-biting match I’ve seen in 3 years of minis rugby we saw parents, coaches and even a pitch marshal or two screaming with encouragement as the boys managed to grind out a 7-6 win to take home the plate. It was a great ending to a well organised and much enjoyed day.

A special thanks must go to the Castles, Hubbers, Kinnears and Cardosi for giving up their time to organise, ref, BBQ, pitch marshal, and score despite their sons not actually being in the days squad.

Enrico D’andrea
Ned Delo
Freddie Dinan
Lucas Evans
Milo FitzHugh
Matthew Hancock
Noah Taylor
Jean van der Spuy
William White

Wimbledon v Effingham - 7 v 5 won
Wimbledon v Teddington - 5 v 6 lost
Wimbledon v Esher - 8 v 3 won
Wimbledon v Warriors - 4 v 2 won

Plate Wimbledon v Old Reigations. 7 v 6 won

Quote of the day:
“I don’t think I’ve ever taken a team to a tournament and not returned with silverware” - Dan Taylor

Thanks to Mike Evans for the report