U11 v Tour (Away) 27 Apr 2014

Review of the tour.

Monmouth Lions went on tour this weekend to the Leicester Tigers rugby festival in Butlins Minehead for the first time with kids and coaches looking forward to testing their skills against all other teams across the UK and Ireland. The lions packed their bags and with only 12 players (so no subs) knew they would be facing a hard weekend set about their challenge to go against other clubs who brought 20+ players.

The first game saw the Lions play the Irish - Lisburn RFC 2's.

As the boys were being put through their paces in the warm up, one of our few actual backs - Charlie Weldon (outside half) pulled his thumb back causing him to have to go to the wing due to being unable to catch the ball without pain. Step up our captain Robbie Nixon who then dropped in at 10.

The lions then set about the task of playing, for once we started with a bang coming through the game and winning 20 - 0.

Stand out players in the first game was no.9 Lewis Richards whose aggressive tackling from the scrum half position was noted by all and not what you normally expect from a no.9 and James Williams whose direct running and speed caused huge holes in the Irish defence, who were shaking each time he caught the ball.

2nd game Lions v Clifton RFC

What was obvious from the moment we turned up was the sheer size of some of the players from the opposition, this was a huge game and Monmouth were up against it from the start allowing Clifton to score early on.

Monmouth looked half asleep and after a stern team talk at half time by the coaches they woke up and tried to play some rugby against a team that were several stone a-man heavier and taller than them and against a team that had several subs to bring on. The inevitable started to happen - boys started to drop with injuries due to the sheer size of the team against them and at one stage the Lions had 2 off injured. But, they dug in and it clicked, they started to play for each other and some how they clawed their way back into the game and scored a try.

The injured boys refused to stay off and continued to play with the players all getting knocked from pillar to post but holding on and showing so much heart and guts with the Lions managing to push the opposition into touch at the last play of the game to earn a very deserved draw.

Stand out players were Harry Powell who throws himself into every tackle and in one hit drove a player back 15yrds then got high tackled and had trouble breathing but refused to stay off and ran back on, and Rui de Sousa who formed part of Monmouth front row who were against a pack who were several stone heavier never gave up and always went forward with ball in hand.

3rd game Lions v Driotwich RFC

This was where it hurt...the boys after the last battle were up against the team which in the end went through the tournament undefeated and as champions.

Again playing against a team which had a 20man squad and were far bigger than us. The boys dug in and tackled everything but due to having the smallest squad size of any other team on tour it was inevitable that we lost 15 - 0 to a very good, big, well drilled team and it is to the boys credit that the only kept them to 3 tries.

Stand out players were captain Robbie Nixon who always led from the front and tried to go forward at every opportunity and Kieron Williams who as per normal threw himself into every tackle with no regard of his own safety..

That concluded the rugby for the day and all retreated to the pool in the afternoon to soak their bodies and enjoy the slides.

Sunday

The lions saw themselves into the plate competition and a potential avenue to some silverware.

Lions v Ynysybwl RFC

This saw two welsh teams playing English RFU rules against each other and saw Monmouth very quickly return to the type of play we all have learned to expect from them, with the forwards dominating and paving the way for our backs to run hard. The Lions winning 25 - 0.

Stand out players were - Charlie Weldon who slotted back in to the outside half position and made ground at will directing our backs hitting any hole he could find in the opposition backline. Hamish Lawson who had changed position from second row to parter Robbie Nixon in the center for the weekend brought his expected brand of direct running and hard nosed tacking to our backline and Xavier Brevet who played as an extra forward and turned at least 5 rucks over with his superior fitness and speed in getting to the breakdowns.

PLATE FINAL

Lions v Winchester

Back to English opponents and a team which obviously had a bigger squad to ours and a bigger pack. The coaches got the boys together and after another inspirational team talk set them off for their final game. What then unfolded was such a complete team performance by the Lions that even if they were still playing now Winchester wouldn't of scored. The Lions took 'aggressive defence' to another level with every time an opposition player had the ball at least 3 lions were hunting him down at speed.

Then we took our chances when they appeared, Charlie getting over his hand injury and getting use to the English rules putting in a perfect cross kick over to our speedster, Adam Davies, who then flew down the wing and into the corner. The forwards were also winning scrums against the head and line-outs giving Charlie enough ball to hit Winchester on the break. A further 3 tries were scored by the lions who won the game due to their hunger, aggressive defence and teamwork.

Stand out performances from Morgan Wainright who man handled the opposition forwards picking up one of them up and smashing him to the floor (gently of course), prop forward Matty Arnell who has brought a hard edge to our front row in his first year of rugby with his thunderous hits that no other team at the festival could emulate, and Adam Davies who skinned his opposition winger at will twice on the outside scoring with blinding pace.

Monmouth Lions 20 v 0 Winchester

Monmouth Lions - Plate Winners

A special thanks must go out to the parents and boys off the coaches. Rugby is a hard game and the Lions went away, bonded as a group and showed so much heart and fight for each other it made the coaches proud. They demonstrated skills that cannot be coached and will stay with them for the rest of their careers.

This tour showed a bunch of boys not relying on any one 'superstar player' which so many teams do, but 12 players who fought tooth and nail for each other and came back as 12 brothers.

Well done Monmouth Lions !

Thats 2 tournaments entered over the last 2 weekends and 2 trophies won ...

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