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Tour Information: U12 Spring Tour 2005 - Cornwall

U12 Spring Tour 2005 - Cornwall
Hayle Festival

Ivor Wells

A crowd of nearly 300 boisterous spectators witnessed a scintillating display of flowing rugby from the U12s in the final match of this prestigious tournament at Hayle RFC. The victorious Norwich side took the trophy by scoring 3 tries without reply to defeat an extremely robust Merthyr team who had, until then, remained undefeated for over 2 years.

This match was the culmination of two days of fierce competition which saw the U12s defeat Stow-on-the-Wold (2-1), Hove (2-1) and Frome (6-1) in the preliminary stages on the first day. The highlight of this series of victories was a brilliant first-half performance against a very mobile Frome side: the forwards, immense as they dominated in the set pieces and in the loose , secured quick ball and set off the backs whose passing and running opened up the Frome defence. This ruthless dismantling of a very well organised Frome team would have sent shivers through opposition spines had some of them not been wallowing in their own glory by devouring vast amounts of cornish pasties, chips and ice cream.

Finishing at the top of the group above Frome meant that on the second day of competition, Norwich would face old adversaries Portsmouth, Frome and the formidable side from the Welsh Valleys. The team returned to their base at Perran Sands, Perranporth that evening reasonably satisfied with their day’s work. What was apparent at the end of this first day of the campaign was that the team was blending well and expectations were high.

Planning for the tournament had been meticulous. The tour party had arrived at Perran Sands almost unnoticed. Jetting in to the Cornish Riviera from Stansted had provided the party the time for some serious bonding and match preparation. A game of beach rounders created some excellent tackling opportunities as adult members of the party were brought to ground by several over-exuberant youngsters on first base as they attempted to complete rounders. Training continued throughout the afternoon with dune-surfing (without the boards) and some essential stamina work in the arcades and sports bars.

Unlike the previous day of warm spring sunshine, Sunday was overcast and there was always a threat of rain in the air. Whilst opposition teams had been earnestly training since early morning, the phlegmatic Norwich coach, Haydon Cocker, called together his players in that calm, composed manner which typifies their approach to the game, 30 minutes before their opening encounter with Portsmouth.

The first few minutes of play saw Norwich produce a skilful defensive display, repelling a number of strong attacks from the Portsmouth backs. Norwich comfortably absorbed the pressure and gradually the forwards took control winning enough ball to secure a straightforward two - nil victory. In the next match Frome yet again succumbed to some powerful Norwich play and were defeated by three tries to nil.

As the crowds gathered for the final match the skies ominously darkened. Both teams, Norwich and Merthyr, entered the gladiatorial arena, each in its respective group, huddled together to prepare for the final conflict. What happened next was quite remarkable. A rhythmic chant of ‘Norwich, Norwich,’ begun by Portsmouth players was taken up by spectators from other teams. The cacophony of noise spread rapidly pitchside and clearly disturbed the Merthyr team. They were further unsettled when the match began, by the pace of the Norwich play and there was a weary recognition of their demise as the second of the three Norwich tries was scored early in the second half. It was a ruthless demolition of a strongly fancied side. The third try, which epitomised the Norwich running game involving forwards and backs, was of a pedigree beyond that expected of such young players. Praise came from all quarters on the quality of the Norwich performance. Such accolades were fully justified for a group of boys who played with skill, determination, and pride. One cannot underestimate the considerable influence of Hayden Cocker under whose guidance this team has continued to flourish.

Later that evening witches and warlocks appeared at the traditional fancy dress celebrations but unfortunately they vanished rather too quickly when a couple of fiery dragons became fractious with one another in the bar.

A trip to Flambards theme park was organised for the final day, followed by a gentle stroll around the quaint streets and harbour of Falmouth. The talk was still very much on the previous day’s victory as Bob Buchan’s tour party headed for the airport. The tour had been marvellous: the rugby sublime.

Team: George Buchan, Kieran Palmer, Mitchell Turner, Josh Stuart, Rhys Williams, Joe Srokowski, Christian Wells, Edmund Donell, George Fenton, William Clayton, Nick Hoffman, Ben Brown, Freddy Wyatt, Connor Lake, James Barber, JP Goodwin, Jack Ferris, Tom Whitehouse.

Results: P6 W6 Tries: F18 A3

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