The MSSP Y5/6 Tag Rugby Borough Finals took place on Friday 26th November at Farm Road Pavilion. With 16 schools in attendance the excitement levels were palpable despite the wet and windy conditions that greeted the players and supporters on their arrival.
After an initial briefing, teams were placed into 4 groups of 4, with each team being given an initial ranking, depending on where they had finished in the earlier Cluster qualifying competitions. Teams would initially play in a round robin format against the other 3 teams in their group, before then going into the nock out stages later in the afternoon. Each team would then play the same number of matches, but depending on where their team finished in the mornings group stages would denote which overall qualification position they could compete for in the afternoon.
Matches got off to a frenetic pace across all of the pitches, and despite the wet and slippery conditions that the players had to contend with this did not effect the high quality of attacking rugby that was on display. It was fantastic to see such brilliant handling in attack to score some sublime individual and team tries, as well as seeing some resolute, well organised defensive efforts to keep teams away from the try line. What was also extremely pleasing was the level of excellent sportsmanship and respect demonstrated by all competing schools no matter the final result. A special mention must go to Garfield and St Teresa’s B teams, who despite only getting a very last minute call up on the Thursday to attend the event due to some of the original qualifying schools sadly not being able to attend, they did not let this lack of preparation effect them, and put in some brilliant team performances in the mornings matches.
After the lunch break, schools were given a new seeding number as a result of where they had finished in their group, and would either be playing for positions 1-8 or 8-16. The winning team from each of the following matches would then take on the lower seeding number into their next game, and this would continue until each team had played a quarter final, semi final and final.
No matter a schools final finishing position, the standard of rugby in the knockout stages went up another level. A huge amount of credit should go to every school who played their hearts out, and stayed 100% committed until the very end. The battle for 3rd place overall was contested by St John Fisher and Garfield Primary. Both teams had steadily been improving throughout the mornings and afternoons matches, but it was St John Fisher who managed to orchestrate their best performance of the day at the very end, and put together a very impressive 5-0 win. Massive credit to Garfield who did not give up, and were unlucky on a couple of occasions not to have forced a closer result, had it not been for the final scoring pass not coming off due to the very slippery handling conditions.
The contest for 1st Place, was a hugely tense and close affair. Both Bishop Gilpin and Wimbledon Chase teams had not dropped a point the entire tournament going into this final match, and both teams were extremely evenly matched with some dazzling runners and offloading skills at their disposal. The match was tied on 0-0 going into the last 2 minutes of the game, but it was Bishop Gilpin who managed to find a slight gap in Wimbledon Chase’s defensive line and offload to one of their strike runners to go through and score the winning try. Despite not winning the match, the players from Wimbledon Chase should be immensely proud of their efforts, as the rugby they produced throughout the Cluster Competition, as well as at todays finals was superb, well done all!
A huge congratulations to the players from Bishop Gilpin who thoroughly deserved the title of MSSP Tag Rugby Borough Finals Champions for 2021.
A big shout out must also go to the players and staff from Lonesome Primary school, who received the most votes from the other competing schools for the Refspect award. The level of sportsmanship and respect they demonstrated to both competing players as well as the match officials was outstanding. A final big thank you to the Y10 Rutlish Sports Leaders for their efforts and assistance in helping to officiate todays matches.
Until next year……