The Wimbledon Cluster Year 5/6 Tag Rugby competition kicked off at Wimbledon Chase on Thursday 26th January 2017. It was fantastic to see every school represented and 16 teams in total battling it out to represent Wimbledon at the borough finals. Teams were drawn into four groups with the top two teams progressing into the top eight knockout rounds while the third and fourth placed teams looked to finish as high as possible in their respective knockout rounds.

In Group 1 Dundonald started brightly with back-to-back wins, highlighting their speed, turns and sidestepping ability. Bishop Gilpin ‘B’ also got off to a winning start with their success based around disciplined defence and a strong off-loading game. Furthermore, Wimbledon Chase came back strongly from defeat in their first game to win their next two fixtures as their team spirit and collective attitude was evident during and after matches. After losing to Bishop Gilpin ‘B’ in their first match, Merton Abbey regrouped, learned from their mistakes and responded magnificently, utilising every single one of their players on the pitch and demonstrating strong support runners. In the end, it came down to the final two fixtures in the group; Bishop Gilpin ‘B’ produced another fine attacking display to claim a 3-0 victory over Dundonald. Wimbledon Chase’s fine form continued, as they held off a determined Merton Abbey to win 3-2 but it was not enough as Dundonald went through on try difference.

Group 1 Final Standings:

  1. Bishop Gilpin ‘B’

  2. Dundonald

  3. Wimbledon Chase

  4. Merton Abbey

The quality of rugby on display was evident from the first match in Group 2 where an athletic and attacking Pelham side were just pipped 3-2 by a fast and well-organised Wimbledon Park outfit. Bishop Gilpin ‘A’ won the group convincingly taking full points and scoring 12 tries without conceding any. The Priory ‘B’ put in a brave performance with some fantastic team play but could not break down a resilient Wimbledon Park defence also displayed an attacking flair that helped them to take the points with a 2-0 win. This meant that when Pelham met Bishop Gilpin ‘A’ in the final match of the group, they could still qualify in second spot and progress to the top eight knockout round. In the end, Bishop Gilpin ‘A’ proved too strong and ended Pelham’s hopes with a convincing 4-0 victory, allowing Wimbledon Park to celebrate their qualification.

Group 2:

  1. Bishop Gilpin ‘A’

  2. Wimbledon Park

  3. Pelham: 7 points

  4. The Priory ‘B’

Group 3 was full of attacking rugby and shaky defences in the most closely competitive group. St Mary’s took full advantage of this in their opening fixture, winning 3-2 and playing some slick rugby with fast hands and faster feet against a determined Holy Trinity side. After losing earlier, Holy Trinity recovered well to defeat The Priory ‘C’ and coming out on top in an outstanding performance, winning 5-2 against All Saints ‘B’. The Priory ‘C’ improved with every match, organising their defences more effectively and improving their running lines and handling skills to win their final group fixture 1-0 against St Mary’s. All Saints ‘B’ continued to play an open, expansive game but came up against strong opposition who were soaking up pressure before hitting them on the break. This meant the other three teams were battling it out for the top two spots and again it came down to try difference with St Mary’s claiming first place and Holy Trinity snatching second place from The Priory ‘C’ with one more try scored.

Group 3:

  1. St Mary’s

  2. Holy Trinity

  3. The Priory ‘C’

  4. All Saints ‘B’

Group 4 consisted of All Saints ‘A’, Garfield, The Priory ‘A’ and Bishop Gilpin ‘C’. The group produced the most tries out of all the other groups as the attacks ebbed and flowed with teams looking to outscore their opponents at every opportunity. Bishop Gilpin ‘C’ showed their excellent team work combined with individual flair was too strong for their opponents after winning all three of their games and scoring an average of four tries a game. The other teams in the group battled it out and a narrow 1-0 victory for Garfield against The Priory ‘A’ secured second spot in the group. All Saints ‘A’ and The Priory ‘A’ produced the most entertaining match in the group with The Priory ‘A’ taking the upper hand and concluding their group games with a 5-3 victory. The final standings were;

Group 4:

  1. Bishop Gilpin ‘C’

  2. Garfield

  3. The Priory ‘A’

  4. All Saints ‘A’

Some of the most dramatic action was saved for the play-off matches. Both teams from All Saints had to take each other on in their final game, with the ‘B’ team narrowly winning 2-1 to claim victory in the ’derby’. However, full time could not separate the Priory teams in the play-off with the match level at 1-1 after full time, both teams deciding they were happy to share the spoils and finish in the same final placings. Merton Abbey showed their true ability after having an extremely strong group to contend with by winning their last two play-off games while the game of the day goes to Wimbledon Chase and Pelham who played out a captivating 4-3 victory for the latter. Holy Trinity held off a resilient Garfield to earn 7th place. Wimbledon Park scored a well worked team try before Dundonald stormed back to win the game 2-1 and claim 5th place while St Mary’s effected a vital turn-over to score a break-away try to finish 3rd. Bishop Gilpin A continued their dominant form in seeing off their ‘B’ team counterparts, winning 2-0 in the Final.

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. We wish Bishop Gilpin, St Mary’s, Dundonald and Wimbledon Park the very best of luck in the Borough Finals where they will represent the Wimbledon Cluster. Our REFSPECT winners today were The Priory. They were positive throughout, applauding the opposing team, shaking hands and congratulating the opposition even when they lost. A great demonstration of fair play, sportsmanship and etiquette combined with fantastic teamwork and effort meant they were a credit to their school

The event could not have run so smoothly if it were not for the officials – Sports Leaders from Rutlish School – who refereed the games with composure, patience and calm authority. A huge thank you must 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 Wimbledon Chase Primary School for the use of their fantastic facilities.

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