As the coach pulled up outside the gates of Rugby School, where in 1823 a “town boy whilst playing Bigside at football in that half-year , caught the ball in his arms” and turned a kicking game into a handling game, now known to us a Rugby;
the occasion and achievement to date began to register.
With the back drop of Rugby School shielded by large leafy canopies, the clock tower timelessly gazing upon the heated rugby pitches, gazebo’s, huge inflatables, rugby paraphernalia all around, the scene was set for history to be made once again.
Immediately the exceptional standard of all the other regional champions was visible, more athletic and quicker players were on show, zipping around and warming up. There was almost calm before the storm with player’s confidence in their own abilities masking their true excitement and desire for success.
The first of the 5 pool games was a real nail-biter, end to end scoring with some remarkable talent, speed and skill producing a 5 all draw. The first game now out of the system allowed our free running flyers and truly gifted ball handlers to score at will, resulting in a 6-3 comfortable win, easing the nerves and building their confidence.
Our toughest pool game against unbeknown last year’s champions began very one sided culminating in them 3 tries up within the first few minutes. Testament to our players the fight back was on, the grit, self belief and determination shown by all the players ended up in a 7-5 loss, however, on a different day the result could have gone either way.
Final pool results; won 2 drawn 2 and lost one, a fantastic achievement leaving them second in the group. Results in some cases were clinched by a single handling error or a single technical infringement during a 10 minutes game due to the level of opponent. All the players understanding of the game, artistry, competence and finesse is well beyond their years producing some sublime play at times.
The festival structure had changed from the previous formats meaning pool winners played each other, second place played each other and so on so that each team played 8 games during the day. Gawsworth as second in the group played the other pool runners up. After a fantastic win and another toughly fought draw we were straight back on against a team coming off a break, with slightly fresher legs, resulting in a 6-5 loss.
Due to the new format Gawsworth Primary School finished 6th place across the 16,500 other primary schools in England, an unbelievable result from a single year intake village primary school!
A truly memorable day of rugby one the players, supporters and staff will never forget. The achievement of playing at the highest level possible with the most elite teams in the country, producing some fantastic rugby will be reflected upon in years to come.
The way all the players embraced and played the game in the spirit it deserves is something William Webb Ellis would have been immensely proud of!