The school season got off to a bang with Science thrashing Royal in their opening encounter. If that was not adequate, Wesley got the better of the Patana lads and Trinity grimly held on to a draw.
Whilst the supporters of the well-established rugby playing schools would review these results with a sense of despair, it is noteworthy that these lesser-known schools have stepped up to the plate. They are no longer awed by the big names and are willing to make a mark in the local rugby scene. This augurs well for the future as even in the ‘sevens circuit’ we had Trinity lose to a lesser known school. Thus, it is incumbent upon the authorities to ensure that such talent is nurtured further.
Science has over the past few seasons threatened to upset a few of the fancied teams but had been let down by over enthusiasm and a lack of finishing touches. This time round they held their nerve to deliver the knockout punch. They will now approach the other games with a lot of self belief and would have sent a shiver or two along the spines of the other teams. The Royal lads must been shell shocked given that they had just won the big match and the 50 over.
I had the opportunity to watch the Petes game against SACK. Whilst they chalked up 43 points in the first half, they only manage another seven in the second half. Their play in the first half was smooth and rhythmic whilst in the second half the handling was poor and they appeared to be lacklustre. Maybe the early lead made them take their foot off the pedal. The Pete lineout is predominantly to secure the ball at #6.
I am intrigued by this decision as I would have thought that they should opt for the ball to be claimed by the #2 jumper. On a few occasions they even lost the line out on their own throw in. Against better teams, they could lose vital possession via the line out which could prove costly. The first week results will ensure that the tournament is alive and ensure that each of the games are well attended.
On the international front, Wales obviously save their best rugby for the last and England was at the receiving end of the almighty red wave of attack. Wales simply crushed England’s Grand Slam dreams in style with a sensational performance, bringing back memories of their last WC performance.
England arrived hoping to complete a first clean sweep but left well and truly beaten. Two second half tries saw Wales to a memorable victory built on a dominant and marauding pack and solid defence. The Welsh offered a lesson in patience and perseverance in attack. The picking of the Lions squad will begin in earnest soon and it will be a surprise if many red shirts are not on tour.
Welsh flanker Justin Tipuric deservedly picked up the official Man of the Match. His work-rate in defence and attack was immense and has done no harm in enhancing his chances of touring with the British & Irish Lions later this year.
Before the game I had said the match must not hinge on the whims of the referee. England took a hammering as referee Steve Walsh penalised their front row on countless occasions.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)