The Raynes Park Cluster Y5/6 Tag Rugby Competition kicked off in fine form this year at Old Ruts RFC on a murky Tuesday 31st January 2017. It was fantastic to see every school represented with 13 teams in total taking part.

 The teams were split into two pools, with the top two teams in Group’s 1 and 2 going on to represent the Raynes Park Cluster at the Borough Finals on the 9th February 2017.

 Group 1 always looked like it was going to be a closely fought pool and so it proved with four teams fighting for qualification going into the final fixtures. Aragon A started brightly with back-to-back wins, showcasing their speed, turns and side-stepping ability. Alongside Aragon A, St Matthew’s also got off to a winning start with their success based around disciplined defence and a strong off-loading game. Furthermore, Hatfeild also won their first match as their team spirit and collective attitude was evident during and after matches. After losing to Sacred Heart in their first match, West Wimbledon regrouped over the next few games to post a hard fought 1-1 draw against an equally determined Hatfeild side who utilised every single one of their players on the pitch, demonstrating strong support runners. Aragon B and St John Fisher were also doing their best to cause an upset by regularly crossing the try line in their games. In the penultimate round of matches St Matthew’s faced Aragon A, with the winner of this match taking top spot. Both teams showed some tremendous tackling intent by running the ball from deep as well as some resolute defence at the breakdown. St Matthew’s did just enough to win the game 3-2 and therefore topped the group.

 Group 1:

  1. St Matthew’s: 15 points
  2. Aragon A : 13 points
  3. Aragon B: 8 points
  4. St John Fisher: 6 points
  5. Sacred Heart: 5 points
  6. Hatfeild: 4 points
  7. West Wimbledon: 1 point

 The quality of attacking rugby on display was equally impressive in Group 2 where an athletic and attacking Merton Park side were beaten 3-1 by a fast and well-organised Hollymount outfit. Hollymount then won their next two fixtures against Poplar B and Joseph Hood convincingly before coming up against a solid and well-drilled Poplar A team. During the match the score see-sawed between the two sides. Despite both teams potent attacking threats out wide, neither team were unable to manufacture the match winning try. Therefore, the game ended with a hard fought 1-1 draw when the final whistle was blown. Meanwhile, Poplar B put in a brave performance with a fantastic individual try in a close 2-1 loss to Hollymount. In addition to this, Joseph Hood scored some well-worked tries throughout the group matches, but unfortunately were unable to keep the opposition out of their own try line. Likewise, Hillcross scored some fabulous team and individual tries, especially through their flying winger. The fight for top spot was extremely close with both Poplar A and Hollymount finishing the group stages with 13 points. Try difference was taken into account and therefore with a try difference of +10 Poplar A took top spot with Hollymount finishing a close second with a try difference of +6.   

 Group 2:

  1. Poplar A: 13 points (TD: +10)
  2. Hollymount: 13 points (TD: +6)
  3. Hillcross: 9 points
  4. Merton Park: 4 points
  5. Joseph Hood: 3 points
  6. Polar B: 0 points

Some of the most dramatic action was saved for the play-off matches. The match between Hatfeild and Poplar B saw both teams being awarded 11th place. Even after a prolonged period of extra time no team could score the decisive try to win the game. St John Fisher held off a resilient Merton Park to storm into 7th place after scoring three well-worked team tries. Aragon B held their nerve to defeat an unlucky Hillcross side 3-2 to claim 5th spot. The match between Aragon A and Hollymount was an equally tense affair with both teams locked on 2 tries each at the end of normal time. Therefore, the golden try rule came into play and after several phases of pressure, Aragon broke down the wing to score in the corner to claim 3rd place.

 The final was played arguably by the most in form teams of the competition. This match was very exciting with the game going down to the wire. With 30 seconds to go both teams had scored 3 tries a piece, however Poplar A managed to turn the ball over and race up the pitch to score seconds before the final whistle was blown. Credit must be given to St Matthew’s,  as although they were understandably bitterly disappointed in the last minute showed fantastic sportsmanship to congratulate Poplar A on their win that gained them title of cluster champions for 2017.

 Congratulations to all teams who took part and fully embodied the rugby core values of respect, discipline, sportsmanship, enjoyment and fair play. All of these were on display throughout the afternoon. Furthermore the winners of the Refspect award was St Matthew’s who showed humility and respect to all of their opponents throughout the tournament no matter the result; Well-done guys! We also wish Poplar, St Matthew’s, Aragon and Hollymount the very best of luck in the Borough Finals next Thursday where they will represent the Raynes Park Cluster.

 The event could not have run so smoothly if it were not for the officials from Rutlish School – who refereed the games with composure, patience and calm authority. A huge thank you must also be extended to the members of staff and parents who trained, supported and cheered their teams in preparation for, and during the event. Finally, thank you to Old Ruts for the use of their fantastic facilities.

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