MOM: Dan W
If only this match had been filmed it would have provided an excellent resource for coaching how to react to the opposition’s strengths during a match. The first play of the match involved Great Walstead’s biggest player catching the ball and running strongly through most of the Copthorne team to score in the corner. He must have broken at least 8 tackles. The boys looked stunned. So was I. This did not augur well.
What happened next, however, was truly impressive. From then on, every time that this player received the ball he also received two, and often three, Copthorne defenders at the same time. Before the game we had talked about getting close to the ball carrier before attempting a tackle (“stepping inside his circle”) and they applied this straightforward approach quite brilliantly.
There is a simple premise in rugby at all levels and that is that the team with the best defence invariably wins. I am reluctant to pick out individuals but Raymond, William F, Nathan and Nick K all excelled in the tackle and the breakdown. The tackle of the day, however, definitely belonged to Nathan J who took out their biggest player who had, on this occasion, got up to speed and this was in the last few minutes of the match when the game was already won! This determined approach to our defence set the platform for some scintillating attacking play.
It was wonderful to see the boys playing “heads-up” rugby with real confidence. Nick, Dan W and Kye all ran hard and straight, regularly wrong-footing the defence and gaining good yardage. Nicholas H, Freddie, Josh and Tom also made strong runs and came close to scoring, only denied by last ditch tackles. In addition, great handling by Nile, Nick K and all of the team consistently put teammates into space and kept the ball alive.
However, I should report that our tries were scored by Nick K (3), Dan, (4), Kye (2) and Jonathan (1). There is not space to report on all of these so perhaps I should highlight that it was Jonathan’s try that summed up the positive approach of every Copthorne player: he took a difficult high ball outside the 22 metre line, side-stepped past two players and then ran hard at the heart of the defence to cross under the posts, brushing off several tackles en-route.
Among many candidates, Dan W was deservedly man-of-the-match for great running lines and 4 tries but this was an afternoon of champagne rugby that will linger in the memory for some time. Well done all!