Successful Weekend of Rugby for U12's & U14's against the French20/09/2016
Not only was the team that the U12s faced made up of the best players from all the clubs in the ‘Manche’ department (county) they could also be up to 17 months older due to the way the French age regulations differ to the English. The challenge was made tougher by the fact that the U12s had only had a couple of training sessions as the season only started 2 weeks earlier and the ‘Manche’ side had already been together for a whole season.
Despite playing to our rules the French side immediately dominated through their extra size and strength and it wasn’t long before they forced their way through Jersey’s defences. Despite being down 4-0 at half time the Jersey team emerged after the break having got the measure of their opponents and with a drive to win. The second half saw an end to the individual play that defined the first half and the introduction of strong teamwork with the forwards taking the ball into contact and cleaning out at the breakdown and the backs finding space. The French team were struggling to contain the Jersey backs as the score started moving in the other direction. When the full time whistle was blown Jersey had moved to within one point of the French team with the final score 6-5. Had the game not ended when it did a Jersey victory would surely have been inevitable. Tries by Eryk Swiech, Sam Harvey & Samuel Pinel (3). Man of the Match, nominated by the Manche coaches, was Sam Harvey.
The Sunday match was a much more even game. Having played them once Jersey showed none of the initial nerves that caused them to give away the first half of the Saturday game.The end result of a 4-4 draw and the smiles on the faces of all players at the end underlined what a great competition it had been for all involved. Tries by Dan Daly (2), James Pires & Samuel Pinel.
Squad: Archie Rankin, Cameron Halliwell, Charley Webster, Dan Daly, Eryk Swiech, Etienne Hickson, Evan Elias-Rees, James Pires, Jonty Waite, Joseph Dagilan, Larry Strong, Max Foley, Reef Webster, Sam Harvey, Samuel McLoughlin, Samuel Pinel
The U14 team that faced La Manche in the Tournoi games was drawn from the U14 and younger U15 players, in order to mirror the age range of the French teams which operate a different age grading system to the RFU.
For the Saturday game Jersey fielded their strongest squad in an attempt to give the French regional squad, who were drawn from 5 rugby Clubs in the Cherbourg area of Normandy, a real challenge.
It was Jersey who were first on the scoreboard virtually from the French kick off; strong running by Ollie Norton through a sleepy French defence saw his first touchdown of the day which was comfortably converted by Archie Middlemiss - a near perfect start from Jersey. The French were now very much awake and on the attack, but Jersey defended strongly and withstood repeated attacks to keep the French visitors out. As half time approached the French were rewarded for their hard work and pressure with a try in the corner. HT 22-5.
The second half saw the French raise their tempo, physicality and directness, putting Jersey under immense pressure. Despite many brave tackles from the home side, the French were breaking through and took the lead adding four tries (one converted) to the score line. Jersey however focussed on the task in hand; the home squad dug deep and were determined to get the game back. This self-belief and heart paid off with the Jersey man of the match Norton dancing his way to the line scoring underneath the post to draw the game 27-27 with the kick to come. Middlemiss converted with the final kick of the game to give Jersey the win - final score 29-27.
A second game was played on Sunday during training, Jersey rotated in all U14 players in the squad to gain as much game time as possible. The French remained strong and perhaps feeling there was a score to be settled following defeat on Saturday, commanded this game. The coaching team have taken away many positives from the weekend and identified the areas to be worked on before the U14s play their first games in the Sussex competition in November.
Squad: Harry Doolan, Ethan Rault, Conner Williams, Soul Webster, Archie Middlemiss, Charlie Dixon Smith, Ollie Norton, Xavier Barette, Morgan Bradley, Angus Griffin, Danny Alves, Lennon Lopez-Rubio, Jamie Watling, A-J McGinty, Joe Harrington, John Broken, Henry Dawson, Oliver Cawley, Joshua Stuart, Ben Purkiss, Sean Adkin and Miguel Abreu.