The Under 12’s first (training) match of the rugby season was against a strong St Christopher’s team who had beaten us comfortably this time last year. Not only have the RFU age group rules changed but we have had to adapt them on account of numbers. The new rules effectively remove the need for individual positions as you have a different set of players at each scrum.
Nonetheless we played with Sam D at scrum-half and Jacob as “pivot” for our free-kicks and free-passes. We had done a lot of work in training on getting into the right position in order to make an effective tackle and on handling. More recently we had talked about defensive formation and staying “connected”.

To start with the boys defended as individuals rather than as a team and this led to two early tries, but once they had settled the
defence began to improve and we started to enjoy periods of possession. Strong running and tackling from both Austin and Luca was evident from the start but we needed to talk at half-time about support the ball carrier in order to ensure they were not turned over when tackled. Jacob began to settle into his role as pivot and there were signs that the moves we have practised will be put to good effect once the boys have shaken off the early season nerves. Sam S showed real pace and made good ground on several occasions and Joseph put our tackling practice into action with Sam D providing a good service to Jacob.

The half-time score was 0-3, but the Copthorne boys continued to find their feet and showed much better organisation in defence in the second half. Charlie began to show real confidence with the ball in hand and Ben B was also showing some of the form that we saw from him last season. For long periods of the second half our defensive alignment pushed the St Christopher’s runners from side to side without allowing them to make ground. Only when a half-break occurred did we lose our shape allowing them to score again. Copthorne came very close to scoring at least twice largely through good footwork and strength from Austin but the match was destined to finish 0-6. Charlie was by now so energised that he pleaded with me at the final whistle to allow play to continue for a little longer! I was impressed with the boys’ commitment and there were certainly signs of real potential. Well done all.

Man of the Match must go to Austin for a first rate all-round display.