5 February 2018
The Oratory U16 A team started the day inauspiciously at the Gordon’s 7s on Sunday, going down 19-0 in the first half against a confident Gordon’s A team. We rallied back to 19-19, but couldn’t hold out and lost narrowly 24-19; a chastening experience, and the last time we would let that happen all day. The side then played another 4 group games – which was tough schedule – just to get out of the group stage, but with the quality of our rugby, our physicality and mental toughness coming to the fore, we did this relatively easily, dispatching the remaining teams in the group without too much fuss- St. John’s Leatherhead 29-10, Worth School 36-0, Royal Alexandra & Albert School 40-7 and St. Columba’s College 56-0. As it turned out, Gordon’s A team had lost to one of the other teams in our group, so we ended up tied on group points, but went through as group winners with our superior points difference.
As the organisers worked out the final group standings and who our next opponents would be, we focussed on the job in hand and prepared for our semi-final. It ended up with us playing Wimbledon College, and although we started slow, our power and growing confidence saw us stretch away to win comfortably 40-17. In the Final we played City of London Freeman’s School, who we had watched a few times through the day – they played good 7s and we knew they would not be a push-over. As it turns out, we were right, and this was a game that went right to the wire. A few players had taken knocks and were no longer able to play, so the final featured 10 tired players in their 7th game of the day, so this was going to take mental and physical toughness, especially after 6 hours outside in on a cold, but thankfully dry, day. The game ebbed and flowed, but the physical play from our bigger boys – Max Nugent, AJ Okocha and James Simmonds – always gave us an edge, and with Olly Monye having another stormer, we had a decent lead going into the last few minutes. However, we were looking properly tired for the first time in the day, and our opponents scored once to bring them within a score, and then scored with the last play of the game to bring them within two points. Fortunately Lucas Sieyes and Masa Moriyama had worked back to keep the score relatively wide. There followed a tense minute waiting for their kicker to take the drop-kick conversion, which fortunately went wide, leaving the Oratory team 19-17 up. The referee caused further anxiety and nervousness by then changing his mind and saying they had time to kick off again too! As it turns out, the kicker was exhausted and kicked it poorly, with the ball skipping off the field of play to end the game. Job done. The Oratory Senior Colts had won their first tournament of the year, with Captain, Morgan Macrae, picking up the winners’ trophy, and the side have laid the foundation for what could be a very good season.
Special note must be made for Max Nugent, Toby Winterbottom and William Cassar, who worked tirelessly for their team all day, and for Olly Monye who was rightly awarded Player of the Tournament. A good start, and hopefully we will work hard to improve further and challenge the best teams in the country in the months ahead.
Oratory U16 A Squad: Morgan Macrae (Captain), Olly Sylvester-Monye, Jack Thomson, Max Nugent, James Simmonds, AJ Okocha, Will Cassar, Masa Moriyama, Toby Winterbottom, Lucas Sieyes, Jude Parris.