Great start to U12 season

New players arriving, old players returning and lots of silverware

OA Under 12s have enjoyed a great start to the season in September and October.

As our boys transition into secondary school, many of them are now playing school sport on Saturdays, and they faced the prospect of having to choose which sport they wanted to pursue on a Sunday morning. With only a few exceptions, we were delighted to welcome back nearly all our boys from the end of last season, a good sign that we’re doing a decent job in offering competitive rugby for players of all experiences and abilities. We were also delighted to welcome back a number of players from previous seasons.

We also worked with a number of local schools over the close season, and we’re very happy that several boys who had never picked up a rugby ball before September have joined us. We’re very happy to be playing an active role in growing the sport within our local community.

As we moved into October, we were able to give all our boys opportunities to play in rugby festivals, with many of the boys playing their first ever competitive matches.

OA Development Festival – Sunday October 4th

Last season, the head coaches of the OA mini section all agreed that we wanted to host a festival to co-incide with the Rugby World Cup, with a particular focus on participation especially for our new starters.

With the weather gods smiling on us, a great day was had by the members of our Stormers team, and we were pleased to welcome our great friends at Harpenden, Watford, Hemel, Amersham and Datchworth.

The day couldn’t have happened with huge efforts by a number of people… so many thanks to Nick, Ant, Heather, Daryl, Jonathan, Nick C and Stuart. A great team effort!!!

Bedford Festival – Sunday October 4th

With the Development festival taking up most of Woollams, we sent 3 teams to the Bedford festival at the beginning of the month. Our Lions team had won the previous five festivals at Bedford and were keen to have another enjoyable and successful day. The organisers had done a fabulous job with both the excellent pitches and fine weather! For the first time it was a league based format and the Lions had to play four games.

There was great excitement among the boys as we had moved from a team of 9 last season to 12 this year, however the pitch size remained the same. Having not played their best in the last month or so of last season the boys played wonderful rugby in the first game against Bedford. A really good mixture of strong rucking and fine handling saw the boys produce what was to be their best performance of the day. They then moved the ball well and tackled well in their next match against a big Hitchin team. Their third match was a very keenly contested game against local rivals Harpenden. The boys stuck to their task in a game that never really flowed and included far too many stoppages. The final game was our poorest performance of the day against a spirited Old Scouts team. For the first time all day we rucked poorly however our backs did enough to win the game.

Overall it was a great day with fine performances all round, especially from our two new boys, Toby and Joe. The boys won all four games, scored over 10 tries and didn’t concede a try all day.

Our Sharks and Chiefs teams were entered in the B competition, and were joined by Harpenden and Bedford in a 4 team round robin. The Sharks went unbeaten all day with convincing wins against all opposition to win the competition.

Performance of the day however went to the Chiefs, nominally our third team, but not that you would know that by watching them. The Chiefs performed really well, showing  glimpses of what the capable of when working as a team. They started quietly against Bedford, despite being dominant at the breakdown and having the majority of possession, but in the second half the team pulled together, determined to get the ball out of the breakdown more quickly, and were rewarded with what must have been the try of the day; multiple phases, a hand-off and reverse pass out the back door by Tom S, quick hands from Jonny C and over to Ben M to dive over in the corner. Bedford restarted quickly, we were slow to re-organise and were hit from the kick off to even scores. Despite us battering their line we couldn’t make the breakthrough, draw.

Harpenden had a strong side out but we again dominated the breakdown, and were unlucky to end with a draw with some hard running from James M and Jamie W. The boys were bitterly disappointed with the result, but taking the positives, they looked strong and retained the ball really well.

Against the Sharks, a really tough game, the first half despite being their equal at the breakdown, a few missed tackles led to a 3 try deficit at half time. The Chiefs perhaps showed a little too much respect in that half; they worked harder to close them down in the second half, and scored the only try of the day against the Sharks and can hold their heads high.

Well done boys and a big thanks to Bedford for a really well run festival.

Maidenhead Festival – Sunday October 11th

The following week, the Lions and Chiefs attended the Maidenhead festival.

The Lions won the A competition, with wins against Basingstoke, Hemel Hempstead Camelot, Bracknell & Marlow. There was also a fantastically competitive and physical battle against the home team, with OAs triumphing 3-0 to win the trophy.

The Chiefs were in the B competition, playing 4 matches and winning 2 of them.

Amersham Festival – Sunday October 11th

On the same day, the Sharks attended the Amersham festival. Despite officially being our second team, the Sharks were happy to enter an A competition to see how they faired.

The competition was fierce and close, with 2 nil-nil results against Saracens and Beaconsfield, and a tight 1-0 win against Fullerians. In the forth match of the day, the Sharks finally cut loose against Buckingham, running out 4-0 winners. The last game of the day was a game too far for the Sharks, and they were soundly beaten by an excellent home Amersham team who were worthy winners of the competition.

A great performance by the Sharks against quality opposition. Promising signs for the rest of the season.

Bishops Stortford Festival – Sunday October 18th

A mixed team of Lions and Sharks attended the Bishops Stortford festival. Despite the unfamiliar team line up, the results were very familiar. The Lions were unbeaten all day, running in 24 tries, and conceding none. An awesome performance by the boys.

After a busy October, the boys are now looking forward to a well deserved half term break, before we entertain our friends from Fullerians for a fixture on November 1st.

Old Albanian Under 12s are a mini rugby team for Year 7 boys. Some of our boys are now in their 7th season of playing rugby having played tag rugby from the age of 5 and contact rugby from Under 9s. Other boys are just discovering the joys of rugby… Whatever the skill and experience of a player, everyone is welcome and opportunities exist for all.

OAs and the other Hertfordshire rugby clubs offer fantastic opportunities for boys and girls to learn and love the game of rugby, whatever their experience and ability. Contact your local club for more information.