Category: U16 Match Report

League Champions

League Champions
Peterborough 33:55 Stockwood Park u16’s
Match report by Robert Coupland

Today was the big day for the U16’s going to Peterborough for the last league game of the season undefeated and a win would make us League Champions.
However, on arrival events had taken a change in there course when Peterborough conceded the game due to only having 12 players available and hence making Stockwood Park U16’s League Champions.💥 Fortunately we were able to give three players to Peterborough to make the long journey not a waste of time and gave the lads a practice a head of the Bedford Cup Final next week.

Within the first couple of minutes Stockwood pressed on the opposition line with a kick over the opposition from Max for our winger Jordan F. who didn’t manage to gather it after it had taken a deflection before the ball had touched the ground from an opposition hand. However, there was no uncertainty when Jordan F. next got the ball at full back showing both strength and pace to go over for the first try putting the ball firmly down on the ground under the sticks for five points and subsequently converted by Kieran making the Score 0:7 to the Park. A couple of minutes later the ball, again flowing through the backs hands went to Max who bustled through the defence to put the ball down on the ground in the in goal area to legitimately score Stockwood’s second try and Kieran once again converted making the Score 0:14.

The next try came after some great pressure and strong tackling against Peterborough near their line and following a strong tackle from Max taking the Peterborough player firmly to the ground with downward pressure resulting in Stockwood winning the ball and from the following ruck a great quick long pass out from Connor to Kieran who in turn spread it out to Max who drew his man before passing to Dan L. whose options appeared limited due to the defence on his outside shoulder and in front however, he leapt off the ground reaching above the defence ‘Harlem Globe Trotter style’ and slam dunked the ball into the welcoming hands of Jordan F. who with great power ran towards the try line and taking no chances dived as early as possible ensuring no chance of spilling the ball or even been held up, grounding the ball securely immediately over the whitewash in accordance with the rules to be awarded a try. This took the score to Peterborough 0:19 to Stockwood.

From play in our own half a ball was passed out to Max who did not gather it in successfully, ironically managing to put the ball to ground however luckily behind him and eventually getting in to the hands of Reece who made a great run from not far from in front of his own sticks arcing out wide to join the back line and beautifully drawing the defender in before passing to Callum G. who with a hand off, a step and turn of pace went over the opposition try line and ran to put the ball under the sticks but was aware of a defender approaching so made sure he grounded the ball 8 metres in for the first of his two tries. His second try came shortly before half time when this time the other Ginger Joe L. drew the defence in and passed to Callum G. who again showed the defence a clean pair of heels to slide over the whitewash ,securely making sure the ball was grounded with downward pressure exerted and still in contact with his hand was placed on the ground to score. Which was converted into 7 points following a successful conversion from Kieran thus making the half time score 0:31 in favour of Stockwood.

The second half saw a lot of changes both to the Stockwood side and Peterborough side. The first twenty five minutes were dominated by Peterborough, Stockwood tackled well and a great tackle by Dan L. on Raf (who had had an astounding half for Stockwood with some great aggressive running and now was doing the same for Peterborough in the second half) to hold him up over the try line not allowing him to put the ball on terra firma to score. This did not stop Peterborough scoring 5 tries and four conversions unanswered now making the Score 33:31 putting Peterborough ahead.

The boys were looking out of shape and tired and needed to get themselves regrouped, re-energised and back into the game. The first signs of a counter comeback was when Connor went over in the left corner. Wrestling with the opposition to make sure he was able to ground the ball according to the rules of the game to get 5 points and following a great Conversion from Jordan F. Stockwood led once again by 38 to 33. It looked like Stockwood were going to capitalise again when Max ran out wide showing good pace to go over the try line near touch, he then jogged in the in goal area with a cavalier attitude towards the post. Unfortunately this was not American Football or a model shoot it was a game of rugby were in summation; “A try is scored by grounding the ball (the ball must be touching the player when coming into contact with the ground) in the opposition’s in-goal area (on or behind the goal line)”. So when Max was eventually tackled by the opposition player (that all the spectators and players had noticed what seemed a lifetime earlier) and held him up over the line under the sticks, the referee correctly awarding no try!

In the last fifteen minutes Stockwood took the ascendancy with Jordan F. scoring two great tries taking his tally for the day to four. The final try of the game came from a great kick in his own half from Max who chased his own kick gathering it on the third bounce speeding clear of the Peterborough defence running over the goal line under the sticks to the loudest noise of the day coming from the large contingency of Stockwood fans, coaches and players. “PUT THE XXXXXX BALL DOWN” which he managed to do, getting his second try which was converted by Kieran making the final score 33:55 to the Park.

The most important thing been Stockwood U16’s were the LEAGUE CHAMPIONS.

In summation
On a negative note we were poor to compete or even be at the rucks often watching or standing over, resting on the opposition. We also were too slow to either react or make decisions at penalties which has been an issue all season.

The positives our tackling was strong, all four of the try scorers had great games, Connor N, Jordan F, Callum G and Max C. Stephen looked immense for the opposition after recovering from last weeks mystery illness and Raf had a great game for both sides. Dan S. also impressed in the first half especially considering he was playing with a very heavy cold/virus. The team selected was slightly adjusted in the first half swapping the centres around which I felt nullified one of our most potent attacking players Joe L. (not sure if Tony Nash agrees?)

Second half our players were great for the opposition and changes to the first half team unbalanced the initial strength on the field. If we train well this week work with the team as selected and I am sure we will bring the cup home next week. Special thank you to Raf and Connor who both had great games and can’t play in the final and thanks to Aadil for coming to support.

Thanks also to the whole squad who have all contributed to a great and successful league season. Very very well done.
Thanks to coaches present and past and it would be wonderful to see you at the final next week.

Tough day at the office!!

Bedford U16’s 41:12 Stockwood U16’s
Report by Robert Coupland

Today Stockwood were playing a friendly away to Bedford. Bedford are a very good side and have always been our nemesis, it was always going to be a tough game but with a few players out and only able to take 17 we were always going to be on the back foot. Today’s conditions were conducive for a good open game, grey sky, slight drizzle and a grassy soft to firm pitch.

The first 15 minutes of the game was a well fought contest until Bedford went over for the first of their three first half tries. They converted 2 and went off at half time 19:0 to the good.

The second half started well for Stockwood with little Jordan powering over for the Parks opening try. Unfortunately then Bedford ran in four tries and converted one before Joe L. got a late consolation try, making the final score 41 points to 12.

I thought the best of our pack was Mark S. with some strong running, tackling and support play with Dan L. leading from the front as always and on more than one occasion rucking against the opposition by himself. It was evident that against a side like Bedford you can’t have any passengers and there were a couple of forwards who didn’t manage to keep up with play which made the others have to work harder to compensate, additionally my pick from last week for his hard work and tackling, Callum M. was rested for the first half and was sorely missed around the ruck area.

Little Jordan was very strong and ran hard today scoring one of our two tries. He was everything a good second rower should be and would have been an asset to the pack especially round the ruck area were he can dominate with his size. Today he was playing inside centre and unfortunately the ball rarely got out to the outside centres or wings – coincidently (Steven, Joe L. and Max) our top three try scorers of the season.

We were not as creative as we have been and rarely created any opportunities. The positives in the backs were some excellent defence and try saving tackles from Max and Jordan F. as well as some good defence from the majority of others. Credit needs to be given to the opposition who for the whole game managed to play at a high intensity, scoring some cracking tries and showing some blistering pace whilst playing as a well drilled team. It was no surprise to me when I found later that several of the Bedford backs are county sprinters with Bedford Athletic Club.

Today was not our best performance as a unit, we also were really slow to organise ourselves at penalties and in contrast Bedford’s decision making was excellent and they were quick to spot and exploit any weaknesses. A positive from today is, after talking to the opposition coach he recognised how much the team have improved and suggested that some of the players who have suddenly come to prominence i.e. Mark Smith who should be recommended by the coach to go to U17’s DPP trials In August.

I am confident next week with a big squad a week of training, we will go to Peterborough to win the league undefeated.

Must keep on working hard around the ruck area!

A Hard Fought Victory for the U16’s

Ongar U16’s 32:35 Stockwood U16’s
Match report by Robert Coupland

Due to poor weather conditions the U16’s came into this game with neither much training nor playing time.

The Park were away to an unknown opposition, Ongar RFC, which meant having to travel an hour to the match on a day we had already lost an hours sleep due to the clocks going forward!

The one thing in our favour was excellent playing conditions and the little matter of 19 boys with great team spirit proudly wearing their Stockwood tops! The match ball today was a bright green ball which matched the refs top as well as the playing surface. However, I am not going to discriminate about the colour of the ball but concentrate on the rugby.

Stockwood got an early penalty just inside the Ongar half which was kicked deep into touch within 5 metres of the opposition try line. It was so well struck by Kieran that it completely cleared the ground and had to be replaced by another ball, which to my dismay was another green one! However, Callum M. unlike myself was not phased by the colour of the ball and threw a short ball to the front of the line which was Caught by the Stockwood prop Mark S who passed it swiftly back to Callum who raced over to open the scoring to put Stockwood 5 points in the lead. Then to capitalise on his earlier great penalty kick to touch ‘Barry the Boot’ converted from the touch line with a sweet left footed strike straight between the uprights making the score 0:7 to the Park.

Unfortunately the rest of the first half was not going to go as well as the first ten minutes. Ongar until today were an unknown quantity as I mentioned earlier but it soon became apparent they were a good side. Ongar’s first try came after 11 minutes from a well worked move out wide to the wing, Carter Bowes managing to tackle his opposite number but unfortunately for Stockwood he was too close to the line to stop him scoring. Ongar failed to convert making the scores 5:7 in favour of Stockwood. The next 25 minutes were dominated by Ongar, the Stockwood backs had no time on the ball as the Ongar defence was fast up in their faces. They also utilised their big forwards especially their No.8 to attack the line, he had a great run down the flank destined to score until he was bustled out of play on the corner flag by Max C. They eventually converted their pressure into points scoring 3 more tries and one conversion taking the score to 22:7 to the home side.

This is where credit has to be given to the boys collective team spirit and self belief, not only were they not down trodden by conceding four tries in 20 minutes but they started to work out the opposition using their rugby brains.

Kieran, realising if the defence runs up quickly he can counter this by utilising the kick and he did exactly this putting an excellent kick over the top for Connor to chase nearly resulting in a try. Max C. had also worked out with Joe L. that if he ran at and committed the outside centre to the tackle it would either free Joe L. on the outside or allow him to run free, this worked really well when Joe L. staying a few paces behind his inside centre Max (enabling him to take the ball at pace) run on strongly to the pass before running straight and hard at the Ongar defence. Joe L was exceptionally well tackled which is a real credit to the opposition defence but unfortunately the opposition didn’t know why they call him the ‘Hulk’ Ladley. Well not at least until they made him angry by adding an extra insult to stopping him as they ruffled the Ginge’s hair and like the pitch, the referees top and the ball Joe turned green. Within seconds of this move the same two players combined with the now big green ginger man taking the ball twenty plus metres out and no one was going to stop him from scoring. Kieran adding the extra two points before the halftime whistle blew to make the score 22:14 in favour of Ongar.

Ongar started the second half strongly and as in previous reports and earlier on in this one you will be aware I do like a player doing try saving tackles and holding the ball carrier up over the line. Well I was in for a treat, Ongar played some great rugby – the ball flying along the backs, the centre receiving the ball short of the try line with a player outside him but rather than make the percentage pass he got white line fever and maybe on any other day he would have scored had it not been for the ‘Joey Green Giant’ doing the best try saving hold up tackle of the season – a real treat for any defence connoisseurs. The only negative was shortly afterwards Ongar scored taking the score to 27:14 in their favour.

The two hookers Callum M and Eoin realised that the big guys can go nowhere without their legs, Callum M never stopped tackling the whole game making a fantastic individual effort on top of his try. The captain, Dan L, also played a big part in turning the tide by raising the tempo with a couple of individual strong runs, the first of which was a strong thinking one from a quick penalty in his own half and the other as he confused the Ongar defence by spinning in the tackle to gain vital metres.

Unlike Ongar’s failed attempt earlier thwarted by Joe ‘Shrek’ Ladley, Max C didn’t get white line fever and passed it to the ever present still green man ‘Kermit’ Ladley to score a well deserved second. This was nonchalantly converted by the boot of Kieran who shortly after scored an opportunist try and converted again.
It was not just his great kicking from the tee but his field kicking and communication was excellent as well putting in a gigantic kick for Max C. to chase later resulting in a penalty try after Ansett was high tackled near the opposition line. The score was now 27: 35 to Stockwood.

Ongar, however were not going to throw the towel in and with a few minutes to go they went over to score, making the score 32:35 to Stockwood. In the last play of the game Stockwood were penalised for a high tackle ten metres in front of the post from their own line. Now it was not just Joe but all the Stockwood players simultaneously turned a sickly green! Ongar could go for a simple penalty kick to draw the game but as they say ‘fortune favours the brave’ and Ongar went for the five points driving towards Stockwoods line but not all sayings come true and Ongar knocked on and the final whistle blew. Stockwood winning 32:35 in a very well played, well contested match as well as a great spectacle for supporters of both sides.

The game highlighted the strong character of the team coming from far behind to win a cliff hanger in the end. They were also quick to learn from their mistakes/naivety and good moves didn’t happen by accident they happened by design. Good understanding and Communication.

Not one player didn’t manage to play to their potential and give 100%. I think what is also impressive is the opposition had 25 players which their coach rotated well and we had 19 and by the end 3 injured not able to go back on. But through resilience, strong character and self belief that comes from previous victories in the season we were not going to be denied.

Plenty of other great plays from others not mentioned such as :- Ansett’s tackles at full back, Will’s tackling of the big lads round the legs but I can go on and on because all the players deserve praise. Very well done.

Ten’s Tournament

Harpenden 12:5 Cheshunt
Stockwood 0:15 Cheshunt
Stockwood 12:5 Harpenden
Harpenden 19:0 Cheshunt
Stockwood 0:22 Cheshunt
Stockwood 5:22 Harpenden

Stockwood 10’s Festival report Robert Coupland

Today Stockwood played host to Harpenden and Cheshunt for a Tens Festival. The first game was between Harpenden and Cheshunt and they looked two good sides with all fast strong running players well suited for Tens – Harpenden winning narrowly.

Stockwood had a squad of 23 and split them into 2 sides. The first side to play seemed very slow to get started and by half time they were 15:0 down. The second half they were much better and had opportunities to score but poor handling and decision making did not help their cause. Neither side scored any points in the second half meaning Cheshunt were the winners 15:0.

The next game saw Stockwood play Harpenden and they played some good rugby with Steven getting a couple of well earned tries and a great bit of defence from Ansett holding the opposition up over the try line. Joe Ladley also added two points from a conversion. The final score Stockwood winning 12:5 Harpenden.

The second round was the same again with Harpenden playing Cheshunt and Winning 19:0.

Stockwood then played Cheshunt and really never got in the game the only highlights in a 0:22 defeat by Cheshunt was some exceptional last man defence from Joe Ladley and a spectacular catch by Paulius.

The final game of the day was Stockwood against Harpenden and several early tries from Harpenden and a mixture of poor handling missed tackles and frustration from Stockwood saw Harpenden win 22:5 with the only try for Stockwood from Jordan Fadajou

Harpenden were the overall winners winning 3 of their 4 games Cheshunt coming second winning 2 games and Stockwood in third winning 1 of 4

In summation.
Whilst a lot of players seemed disappointed today I think the matches have to be put in perspective. Two very good specialist Tens sides came from Harpenden and Cheshunt to play a mixture of players from Stockwood many neither experienced or suited to Tens it was always going to be an uphill battle and I think with a more experienced side physically more suited to Tens both in speed and fitness (very hard for the big lads today in the mud and space) we could have come away with four out of four wins.

Also the boys didn’t seem at there best today and given how good they have been they deserve a bad day they wouldn’t be human otherwise.

Tens is a game where any weaknesses are exploited and exposed that’s why you need a specialist Tens team to compete at this level and we have in my opinion a good squad of those players well suited for Tens and they need to learn from today’s experience and use it for their benefit in the future. For those that struggled Tens isn’t suited for everyone and 15 a side is a completely different game so don’t be disheartened.

Finchley RFC versus Stockwood Park U16

Finchley RFC 20:33 Stockwood Park U16’s

Match report by Robert Coupland

Today it was London Calling for the Stockwood boys who were away at Finchley. It was excellent conditions for a game of rugby although a little cold. Going into this game both teams had some good wins under their belts and I was anticipating a good clash.

Initially the boys were put under pressure resulting in an early try for Finchley who missed the conversion to go 5:0 up. Finchley continued with the pressure which the Stockwood lads defended well against and some great defence exemplified by Max holding the opposition up over the line. But unfortunately he wasn’t going to last much longer due to a pre match injury and Reece Sweeney was waiting to get the call up following the EMRU cancellation.

The next points came from a Stockwood penalty deep in the Finchley half. The forwards lined up ready to drive the ball forward from the tap but the ball went swiftly through the back line instead fooling the Finchley defence leading to G.I. Joe Ladley going over for the first of his two tries. Kieran failing to convert but hitting the post. The next two scores in the first half were by some great back play culminating in Steve Missen and Reece Sweeney both scoring with Kieran converting both, making the half time score 5:19 to Stockwood. This set the tone for the second half and early on Finchley had the put in on the scrum in their own 10 metre line. A scrum half should always be testing the referee and scrum halves should know your rights. Will was asking the question should I stay or should I go. He decided to go and pounce on the opposition scrum half who spilled the ball for the ever present Dan Loft to pick up and score, again Kieran converting. Later in the game Will was unlucky not to repeat his sacking of the opposition scrum half at the scrummage and it was a case of he fought the law and the law won. The referee blowing up for offside.

The following points went to Finchley and the score was 10:26 to Stockwood. The main threat from Finchley was their large pack not the Brixton guns but big guns all the same, time after time their big runners were stopped in their tracks by some great and tenacious defence. In fact we had our own one man battering ram Mark ‘tommy gun’ Smith. You could see non of our boys train in vain and subsequently reaped the rewards for all the hard weeks work. Today’s match was probably the best team display of well supported unselfish back play ( Joe and Reece both playing their preferred roles in the backs) they were the magnificent seven which was epitomised by Stockwoods last try scored by G.I. Joe who danced past Ivan to support Kieran doing well to stay free which enabled Kieran to off load beautifully for him to score his second try and nicely converted by Kieran to make the score 33:10

Finchley did get two late consolation tries it was hardly death or glory making the final score a comfortable 20:33 win for Stockwood u16’s. Who travelled back up the m1 proudly smiling to themselves that Londons Burning after their dazzling performance.

As mentioned earlier the backs ran well for each other, supported well, took the ball at pace and found support if needed. I thought Steven Missen was outstanding and was closely followed by all the backs in a great team performance.

After the final whistle I was surprised considering this is England to hear the three coaches talking about Spain. Well actually it turned out to be Dan Spain and it’s not often you will hear all three coaches agree on anything but their overall consensus was what a excellent contribution Dan Spain made today and makes week in week out landing those hard tackles (Spanish bombs) never getting the accolades or glory of others or man of the match but definitely a real contender for player of the season due to his consistent high standard of hard forward graft every game. A well earned and truly deserved tribute.

Great game still improving every week, excellent performance as a team. The team are in their GCSE year and looking at career opportunities and this discipline committed team effort will bode them well for the future.

My only criticism at the risk of being told to go straight to hell after such a good performance. Is the boys when winning comfortably need to take complete control be more ruthless and finish the opposition off. Clampdown on unforced errors and be sharper at penalties.

It was a shame the captain’s Dad was not here to watch but he was hitting the waves in Manchester although I did hear Charlie don’t surf.

Another Strong Performance by the U16’s

Stockwood U16’s 65 v. 10 St. Neots.

Match Report by Robert Coupland.

Today the boys travelled to St. Neots, a team they have not played before but a good team which was bolstered by some of their colts since the collapse of the St.Neots colts team.

The game, however, was one sided with Alin, Mark and Dan Loft getting 1 try each; Jordan Fadajou and Max getting 2 each and Steven getting four. Max also got 5 conversions.

The important thing which the boys need to remember is not the try scorers names above but that all points are team points and all of the tries scored today were created by the team.

Today’s game had lots of positives, the highlights of those for me were seeing players reaching new heights and some new faces coming to the forefront. This is very refreshing and reassuring for the future.

Mark Smith is running with greater power, faster speed and more confidence than before – bumping the opposition off like skittles. I doubt if there is any prop better in the county with the skills in open play which he has in the locker as well as his power, speed and fitness which improves week in week out with his commitment to a hard training regime. It is a shame he doesn’t have the same commitment to looking after his boots which he neglected to dry and consequently shrunk resulting in him been sidelined due to aching feet. He obviously didn’t learn from the tour to the war museum, where we were informed that soldiers who neglected their feet were put on a charge for self neglect. Maybe the coaches can think of an apt punishment?

Carter Bowes last game ended in him been taken off injured after receiving a heavy blow knocking him to the ground. That certainly wasn’t on his mind today because he came off the bench with a new found confidence . The highlight being an outstanding catch at full back on the run, several good tackles and cameo runs – great contribution.

Connor Nash a new player to the team impressed me with his confidence and ability to take charge and direct the backs. He was at the centre of all the moves put on by Stockwood – obviously going to be a big asset to the team.

I Never knew what a good runner and pair of hands Luke Notman had until today. He played in a different role directed by the coach to run out wide and he was an added threat joining in the back line and assisted in at least a couple of the Stockwood tries.

My favourite moment of the game was a fantastic ankle tap by Raf who showed great desire in preventing an almost certain try.

Like all games there also were plenty of areas for improvement:-

Decision making at times lacked any awareness of field and player position. This became a bigger issue when the game was won and team dynamics got over shadowed by individual glory. The team need to learn when someone scores it’s a credit and five points to the team not the individual.

At times we were still slow to some of the rucks.

Having said that there was a vast improvement in the number of penalties we usually give away to the opposition. The defence was pretty solid and all the other players I haven’t mentioned played really well and contributed as much as anyone else to another emphatic win by Stockwood under 16’s who to be really critical could have inflicted even greater damage and had a clean sheet if they learn to play for the full 70 minutes as a team and not sit back when they are coasting. They are a very good team but to be great they need to be ruthless and always taking the best percentage option and keep reflecting and learning from every game. As well as training hard every week and believing in themselves just how good they are – I believe if they do ,winning all the competitions they enter and winning the league unbeaten will be very much a reality.

Well done again to everyone who played and one last reference to the war. An army marches on its stomach point been the team played the whole game without any water!

The battle of Charleroi!!

Veni, Vidi, Vici.
The Battle of Charleroi 10/02/2018
Author Robert Coupland

Black star 12 v. 20 Stockwood touring u16’s

Saturday 10th of February the day had started early for all the recruits who had been up since before 4a.m. On a frosty bitterly cold winter’s morning, they had travelled on land and over sea (by ferry) and then again by land enduring harsh conditions made even worst by the ill equipped transport provided to finally reach Belgium. A country steeped in combat history, having staged numerous famous battles such as Waterloo, the Somme, Liege, Mons and the Ypres to name just a few which had all proceeded before today’s battle in the near locality of Charleroi.

After nearly 12 hours travelling the tired and hungry young troops arrived at Charleroi – the battlefield was not a pretty sight the ground was covered in snow with large puddles and icy patches. It was apparent if this battle was to be won it would not be in the war rooms looking through the battle plans spread out on the changing room floor. This battle was going to be won or lost on the battlefield. The brave boys took up their positions looking splendid in their new battle dress, the Generals on the sidelines ordering their men forward and just like the brave men a hundred years ago who graced these very battlefields here in Belgium they took up position waited for the whistle and came out the trenches with all guns blazing.

Initially both sides were tentative, getting to know the terrain and their adversaries. The Belgians showed their intent early on, they were going to batter their way through the Stockwood lines using their heavy artillery and they did have some impressive big guns. At times the pounding was intense but the first breach was made by Stockwood, the fiery red haired beast aka. ‘Ursula’ Sweeney scoring but this was not the only breach of the Star lines for our Generals were smarter than the Belgiums had given them credit for. They deployed a fabulously executed pincer movement with the piste de resistance been instead of the usual attack on the Flemish flanks they did it with a number of prolonged attacks culminating in our ‘Racing Romanian’ Alin racing over to inflict further damage following a second breach to the Black Stars lines. This was shortly followed by a further successful break in the Belgian defence. This time on the opposite flank by one of our two Lithuanian conscripts, not big Arnie who was strategically blocking the Belgian forces moving down the middle but young Paulius ‘the Baltic Bullet’. This was the third incursion the Park made Behind the Black Star lines how much more could these Belgians troops take? Well as the saying goes never count your chickens before they hatch and one egg cracked right open to breach the Stockwood defence and to further pound the Stockwood position they managed to fire over more amo which was converted into greater damage been inflicted on the travelling troops. This is something that the Park brigade had failed to do although they had infringed the enemy lines on three occasions neither occasion was ever converted into greater damage.

Then the whistle sounded and both sides retreated to the dugouts and gathered their energy replenishing with oranges pillaged from the locals. Before these men of valour could rest the unforgiving, relentless Generals blew their whistles for the troops to engage in battle once more.

The Belgians Buns were not beaten yet, they battered at the Park’s door with everything they could, the away troops now fatigued and bleeding led and inspired by Raf, ‘the Polish Cannonball’ and the red haired McLadley they defended their positions stoically, each engagement more painful than the last but they were never going to be broken. We had seen the blood early on as players ripped their knees and hands on the unforgiving terrain . Our smiling Will ‘Napoleon’ Quibell vehemently directing the troops in front and those behind to rebuke the next insurgence. The Stockwood forces were yelled on by the Generals on the pitchside as well as the war hardened veterans on the side lines at times having to be contained by the Generals who not only got their blood and pound of flesh but now demanded sweat and toil from their war torn troops.

We then witnessed the magic feet of ‘Cutter’ Carter who can inflict injury to any adversary with the sharpness of his moves. The peasants onlooking gasped as he pirouetted through the Black Star troops but unfortunately he suddenly found himself flanked on both sides and with a thunderous attack from the rear he was left out of action. These brave young souls had given their all, however, the Belgians were still pressing hard at the gates but these young men from fields far away were not letting anyone through despite their pain and freezing limbs the Belgians were not going to have Charleroi. In fact one of the troops ‘Smasher’ Smith from the oldest regiment on the field the 121st bricklayers platoon cemented our advantage by ironically knocking down the opposition wall.

There appeared to be an inconsequential attempt to breach the Stockwood line but if I am to report what is written in the history books then this breach was too little too late. It was not to be the metaphorical cherry on the Belgian bun, for the battle came to an end and the Park army had come out victorious they had seen a few men injured on the field and grieved their loss but this battle wasn’t won by any individual heroics or flashy artillery it was down to the blood sweat toil and tears of the galant troops led into battle by the bearded warrior of the 3rd Loft Dragoons, ‘Dan the Destroyer’.

The Veterans and Genarals were all humbled by what they had seen. It was agreed by all that this day should not be forgot and each year on the 10th of February we will sit and remember the few that had given so much for so many and we will eat Belgian chocolate and sing ‘oh when the Park go marching in’ led by another one of our warriors Callum ‘the Caller to Arms’ from the Irish McIntyre battalion.

Another weekend for the underdog!!

Stockwood Park RFC U16’s 19:12 Towcestrians RFC U16’s
Match report by Robert Coupland
Today the visitors to Stockwood Park were Towcestrians U16’s. They came with a big reputation currently being the top team in the top league of the East Midlands League One having beaten Bedford Blues and Kettering already this season.
After the first ten minutes it was evident why this team were the best in the East Midlands, they were fast to the rucks, confident with the ball in hand, supported each other not just in attack but in defence as well and their game awareness was equally as good.
However, the score after 10 minutes was 0:0 and Stockwood were doing well to be hanging in but it looked only a matter of time before you felt the Towcestrians would score (or so I thought)
Well the boys had a different idea I don’t know if it was the last few weeks intense training in the cold wet mud that kicked in or the frustration of GCSE revision but they lifted their game not only to match the opposition but to surpass them. They were quicker to the breakdowns, stronger in the tackle and confident with the ball in hand. The work rate of the Stockwood players was off the scale and I was sure a few of our players were going to burn themselves out, how wrong I was, as they all carried on giving their hearts and souls for the whole game with no drop in intensity. It was Towcestrians who came off the pitch at the end of the match blowing the hardest. Our players came off the pitch physically hurting because this was the best opposition they have played against as a team and they were made to work for every second of the seventy minutes.
Now to the small matter of the score. It was midway through the first half when Stockwood were awarded a scrum 10 metres from the opposition line. Connor fed the ball in, which quickly went to the number 8’s feet and the scene was set. The scrum was steady and controlled Connor was waiting at the back and the backs line was set to attack. At this point in the game I felt confident the ball was going out through the backs (well how many times can I get it wrong?!!) Raf had a different idea, he picked the ball up at the base of the scrum playing his first game as number 8 and went for the line like an exorcet missile diving over for the first try of the game which was duly converted by Kieran and against all expectations The Park were 7:0 in front.
Towards the end of the first half the ball had travelled through the hands of several players (not sure which ones, sorry). Max had the ball with two men on him and managed to offload to Joe Ladley who ran strongly before passing out to old Jordan who does what he does best run fast and strong to score the second try of the game and the reliable boot of Kieran converted. There were no more scores in the first half which ended 14:0 to Stockwood. Now you might think I am a pessimist but as impressed as I was with the boys I knew Towcestrians would come back hard in the second half and I questioned how much we had left in the tank.
The second half started as I predicted the opposition scoring one converted try followed by a second unconverted try. I certainly won’t be buying a lottery ticket in the near future because the rest of my prediction was not for the first, second or third time wrong! The boys did have more left in the tank and one of those boys took the ball from the ruck and forced his way over to get his well deserved first try of the season and the winning try of the match in the biggest game of the season ( well done Callum McIntyre). Kieran missed the conversion but this was due to the fact the ball still had some of his face on it from an earlier heroic charge down which was the epitome of the effort and courage the boys gave all day. The final score was 19:12 to Stockwood and in my opinion the best result in the three years I have watched this team. Ironically the captain Dan Loft walked off the pitch with a small shirt on his back but I am sure he wore it with a big heart because he should be very proud of his team today and himself for a great performance.

U16(Red Squad)A Good Day at the Office

Brackley 7 – 52 Stockwood u16’s
Match report by Robert Coupland

On a grey mild January afternoon at Brackley rugby club we were treated to a very pleasing performance by the under 16’s, especially in the first half were the team surprisingly appeared to have retained what they had been taught in training during the week. They were quick to the rucks and winning the ball, they moved up as a line and showed good game awareness.

From the very onset they dominated the opposition, starting with a powerful run from the captain Dan Loft who unselfishly passed the ball on the try line to the player outside him who unfortunately dropped it, however, he did make amends immediately afterwards from a very well set up and worked move the ball was switched from the open side to Kieran on the blind side. Kieran then passed to Max who then gave it back on the inside to Reece who was in full flight and burst over the line for the first score. Shortly afterwards they kept the pressure on with Max and Kieran breaking free, Max drawing the full back in and releasing Kieran to score. A few minutes later Kieran returned the favour and passed the ball to put Max over for Stockwood third try. At this point the backs were relishing good ball from a hardworking pack. When Brackley had the ball Dan “the destroyer” Loft, throughout the entire match, persistently harassed and spoiled it and the backs added to Brackley’s woe with great line speed and moving up together as a line was most impressive.

Stockwoods fourth try was again good forward work leading to good ball out to the backs which led to Steven breaking through the Brackley defence to score the first of his two first half tries. The other tries in the first half came from two great individual runs from Jordan and Calum G. Kieran “the boot” converted five out of the seven first half tries.

The first half was rugby played as it should be forwards getting stuck in doing the dirty work and backs creating opportunities and supporting one another and converting pressure into points.
The half finally finished 45- 0 to Stockwood it was a one-sided half but that was due to Stockwood not allowing Brackley to play, with some much-improved rucking from the forwards and some great back support and finishing and plenty of bruising hits from all.

The second half started very differently with Brackley not down beaten but showing lots of grit and character and scoring from a good well working running maul they added the conversion to make the score 45:7 to Stockwood.

At this point a few Stockwood players changed into alternate positions and a bit of over complacency confidence kicked in. However, when put under any further pressure from Brackley they defended ferociously and were under instructions not to let in anymore scores.

One of the above positional changes made by the coach was to move Joe “the juggernaut” Ladley from no8 to outside centre along with Mark “masher” Smith onto the right wing, both boys now playing in their preferred positions! This was to prove a great tactical move when Kieran passed the ball out to Max who drew the defence in and offloaded the ball to Joe in the 13 position who had Mark outside him on the wing, but Joe stepped on the gas and had the pace to score himself. Kieran converted to make the score 52:7 to Stockwood. No more points were scored in the second half but Brackley didn’t throw in the towel and pressed hard at times and Stockwood were guilty of one of their consistent errors this season giving far too many penalties away.

It was at one of these penalties that the Brackley forwards took the ball running, as a pack hard and aggressively at the Stockwood boys who were defending close to their own line. This certainly was an intimidating sight however far from intimidated “sturdy” Spain and “rhino” Reece ran and met them like a two-man wrecking ball. This was my personal highlight of an experimental second half which was not played at the physical and mental intensity of the first half – but then 35 minutes mental intensity from teenagers is half an hour more than usual.

The game ended 52:7 to Stockwood in a well played match by all the players and the greatest accolade of all was the compliments paid by the Brackley coaches and the crowd that came out to watch from the clubhouse to see ‘some champagne festival rugby’.
Playing like this, improving weekly, I don’t believe there is a team we have played this or last season that can beat us on this performance!

U16(Yellow Squad)A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Old Albanians versus Stockwood RFC
14th January 2018

For the first time this season, with help from the U17’s, we were able to just about field two teams. A team made up of players from the U16 were joined by the U17s as Stockwood sent a team of 16 players up to play Brackley in a friendly.

The rest of the available U16 squad went to Old Albanians to play in the Herts & Middlesex league. Although we were supposed to have 15 players one pulled out at the last minute, so we were left with a team of 14! As the OAs had a squad of 22 players it was agreed that one of their players would play for us.

It was obvious from watching our opponents warming up that they were taking the game seriously having found themselves on the wrong end of results against us in recent matches.

There are a lot of positives to take out of todays game and I feel the result did not reflect the effort and spirit the boys showed throughout the game. The OAs started the game the stronger and ran in a couple of scores early on because of several missed tackles and poor decision making by Stockwood. Unfortunately, this pattern of play continued throughout the first half although I have to say the boys’ heads did not drop at any time.

I am not sure what was said at halftime but if our opponents they were going to have much of the same in the second half they were in for a shock. Old Albanians again started the stronger but whereas in the first half they scored early Stockwood dug in and gave as good as they got! In fact, for the first 23 minutes of the second half they took on board and OAs were unable to breach our line, the ref commented that it was the best counter rucking he had witnessed form this age group this season! The boys should be proud of the resilience they showed but as the OAs introduced fresh legs you could see our boys tiring.

Not to be outdone though we had a few breakaways ourselves and had it not been for a combination of last ditch defending and some dubious tackling by our opponents Stockwood would have scored!

I think the boys that played today should ignore the score as it was not a true reflection of the game. They need to take the positives out of the match: all 14 of our players played the full game whereas their opponents were able to use substitutions and put on fresh legs when needed; they didn’t let their heads drop at any stage and they showed strength and resilience in their counter rucking.

The boys need to remember that when playing opponents who are physically bigger then you trying to tackle around their chests does not work they need to tackle round the legs. If they could have cut out the missed tackles and passed the ball though the hands more often I am sure they would have got the rewards they deserved in the match. That said as said before they should take all positives forward and just remember how they stopped a strong physical side from Old Albanians for large parts of the games.

Well done lads more of the same next week!!