On a cold and damp winter’s evening, half of the OA U9’s B’s (the Reds) took part in the Hertfordshire Floodlit Festival which was dedicated to the memory of Alan Bristow, a Vice-President, past captain and coach of the Hertford RFC U11’s.
In their first game the OA Reds were pitted against a strong Bishops Stortford team. However, with 12 tackles from Matthew, Bishops Stortford were unable to get out of their own half for the entire game. This performance from Matthew was in spite of the referee in his earlier football that day had asked for him to be taken off as he was so unwell. As first receiver, Ruari continually smashed across the gain line to set up Archie who scored a hat-trick of tries, as the Red’s stormed to a 30-0 victory in their first game.
The Reds’ second game saw them play Brentwood, who they had faced in a mud bath last week. The Reds came out of the blocks quickly. James started the game with a massive hit on a Brentwood player that left our opponents not wanting the ball. Two further tries from James in a man-of-the-match performance was only overshadowed by Ollie who first stopped to fix his hair before smashing a Brentwood player into the ground. Ollie then finished the game off with a fifty yard run and try to make the final score 20-0.
The third match against a massive Woodford side was the highlight of the evening. Two breakaway tries from Archie and James won the game 10-0. However, they were the only occasions that the Reds were in the oppositions half. Woodford spent the entire game camped out on the Red’s try line. Massive Woodford players continually tried to smash the ball up the middle of the park but Thomas was happy to put his body on the line to pull down boys and girls twice his size. Giving away more than a stone per player, the Reds tackled as if their lives depended on it. As a team they made over 120 tackles in a 14 minute match – a special mention goes to Zack who was a man mountain holding up the Woodford attack on the line more than once. To a boy there was not one missed tackle in the whole game, an amazing performance.
The Reds finished the tournament against the hosts Hertford. As a sign of thing to come Henry ‘Ashton’ swan-dived over the try line to open the scoring, after smashing through the Hertford defence. Full of confidence the Reds ran in seven tries in a 35-0 romp. The last try was the pick of the bunch with Will storming across the line from 15 yards out, while carrying a Hertford player who had tackled him around the neck.
With 19 tries scored, the OA Reds won the U9’s Hertfordshire Floodlit Festival. But as usual, the real story of the night was the aggressive tackling and defence of the Reds. Not one try conceded in an hour of rugby.
Alan Bristow’s widow presented the shield to the overall winners of the evening in a touching moment. The overall winners were the club with the highest try scores across the three age groups (U9, U10 & U11). This was awarded to OAs, who as a club scored 37 tries, 19 of which were scored by the U9’s.
The boys had an amazing time playing into the night under the lights and played brilliantly as a team.