MSSP Tag Rugby Finals 2019

On Friday 8th March 2019 The MSSP Year 5/6 Tag Rugby Borough Finals took place at Tooting and Mitcham F.C. A total of 16 teams were in attendance, with 4 teams from each of the four Merton Clusters represented. Teams were split into groups of four to play a round robin stage with the teams in their pool.

After a brief introduction and recap of the rules the first fixtures got underway. The quality of rugby on display from the first round of games was to a great standard and with a range of attacking tactics taking place across each of the four pitches. Matches were played at such a high tempo throughout the group stages with many games finishing with large score-lines especially on the yellow pitch in Pool D with every team scoring at least one try per group game, not forgetting a few 5-4 final scores in that group plus the largest win of the day coming from West Wimbledon with a 6-0 victory in Pool A.

After the pool stages had taken place, the seeding’s were recalculated for each team for the remaining fixtures. Each team would play a Quarter Final, Semi Final and a Final game to determine where they would finish over all.

As the Quarter-finals commenced, the teams did not cease to play with the attack-minded spirit that seemed to be sweeping across the rugby arena. High-scoring results continued to be the theme of the tournament with Wimbledon Chase recording a comfortable 4-0 win with a much tighter game between Bishop Gilpin and St Teresa’s; BG taking this one 5-3.

Credit to William Morris who picked up their first win at the Semi Final stage with a 2-1 victory. Again, games did not disappoint with lots of tries being scored; a 4-1 win for Pelham and a nail-biting 5-4 scalp for St. Matthew’s amongst some of the unmissable, end to end action. At this stage it could be easy to relax and for holes to appear in a team’s defence, but well done Stanford and BG in particular for picking up 1-0 and 3-0 wins respectively and not conceding a try in this round.

In the final round of matches, 15th place was secured by Dundonald with a tense 3-2 victory over the battling Links side. 13th Place was claimed by Pelham through their well-deserved 5-1 victory over William Morris. 11th Place was awarded to Abbotsbury after their confident 3-0 victory over Beecholme. 9th place was a much closer contest but secured in the end by Wimbledon Chase with a 2-1 score over Stanford.

Malmesbury ended their tournament in style with a clean-sheet and 3-0 win over their Morden cluster rivals Cranmer. The 5th place play-off between St. Matthew’s and St. Teresa’s was arguably one of the games of the tournament. It had everything; high-drama, 11 tries and only the golden try rule could separate them with the game tied at 5 all after the allocated 8 minutes. Even in added time, it was end-to-end with a number of turnovers in possession and quality defending with high-class dexterity to pinch the tags with precision. However it took an unstoppable, bursting run from the St. Matthews’ pacey winger to end the game, scoring the deciding try. Well done to both teams and thank you for a thrilling fixture!

The bronze medal match was just a close between Poplar and West Wimbledon, however this was a lesson in 'how to defend in tag rugby' with superb concentration and organisation from both camps. With the score at 0-0, it look as if another golden added time period would have to be called upon to determine the way of the medals. Although Poplar had other ideas. With the clock running down, they saved one last ounce of energy until the very end and with some nimble footwork and a change of direction the Poplar ball-carrier managed to squeeze through the almost unbreakable West Wimbledon defense to lay the ball down and claim 3rd place prize. A wonderful battle and full credit to both squads.  

The final, similar to previous years, was a really close affair. Both Bishop Gilpin and Hillcross had shown some great form during the group stages, and played some outstanding rugby in the knockout stages to reach the final. Both teams had very different styles of attack however both extremely effective. The game ebbed and flowed with both teams neck and neck on two tries a piece. Again, the game could not be decided in normal time and had to be extended to 'golden try' and squads reduced from 7 to 4-a-side as per the rules. But by this point, all other games had finished and a terrific crowd had gathered around the perimeter of the pitch. The 8 players on pitch could have easily shown their nerves but in fact the opposite started to occur. The atmosphere of the growing crowd inspired them with the determination to find that extra effort for their teams and they relisehed the challenge with pride. It was a wonderful moment, with all other teams supporting and spectators urging both teams on so it was only fitting that a game like this should be won with a wonderful try. Hillcross pushed as hard as they could, with darting individual runs and deceiving changes in direction that had served them so well over their 6 games. However Bishop Gilpin stood strong and rallied back with some precise handling and runs from deep and eventually it came down to one of these plays being the crucial match winner and gold medal deciding try. A swift, controlled pass leading to the final run and final MSSP try of 2019 sending the supporters wild! Well done to the gracious winners and resilient runners up, BG and Hillcross.

Bishop Gilpin will now go on to represent Merton at the London Youth Games later in the year. Credit must however be given to Hillcross for their efforts right throughout the tournament – an outstanding effort from them, both finalists and to all 16 teams for participating.

Final Standings

  1. Bishop Gilpin

  2. Hillcross

  3. Poplar

  4. West Wimbledon

  5. St. Matthews

  6. St Teresa’s

  7. Malmesbury

  8. Cranmer

  9. Wimbledon Chase

  10. Stanford

  11. Abbotsbury

  12. Beecholme

  13. Pelham

  14. William Morris

  15. Dundonald

  16. Links

A huge thank you to all involved today, to Tooting and Mitcham FC for hosting us and especially to our 9 Rutlish Sports Leaders who refereed the matches superbly.

A special mention must also be given to all competitors who demonstrated a great level of sportsmanship and respect for their opponents throughout the event, and through doing this created a really enjoyable experience for all involved. With this, the schools who received the most votes by others as demonstrating the highest level of sportsmanship and respect for their opponents throughout the day was both Links and St. Matthews who were this tournament’s joint REFSPECT winners.

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