JUNIOR RUGBY: Old Laurentians play Saints in great show of sportsmanship, friendship and fun

Year 6 school mates from Abbots Farm playing for different teams
Year 6 school mates from Abbots Farm playing for different teams

Youngsters showing huge progress putting training into practice

U11s: Old Laurentians v St Andrews: It was great to visit Ashlawn Road on Sunday and have a ‘local derby’ against the Andrews for the first time in a couple of years.

Old Laurentians Under 11s

Old Laurentians Under 11s

The OLs team have been talking about playing against school friends for a couple of weeks in training now and it and performance levels didn’t disappoint. It was refreshing for all of the squad to play with an openness and freedom, something all of the OLs’ coaching group encourage. At this age rugby should be fun and players challenged to try things and develop themselves, even if mistakes occur.

Both OLs squads were physically imposing in the tackle, with big improvements in the ruck which is an area they have continually been trying to work on this season and the attacking play at times, both as a team and some individual moments, was a joy to watch. It was probably OLs’ most complete team performance of the season where all players contributed and a nice way to end 2018.

Ultimately though, this was a celebration of rugby as a sport and why we encourage children to play it – mates on different teams giving their all and respecting the rules, playing hard, playing fair, smashing each other in the tackle and then shaking hands and having a joke afterwards!

U9s: A fantastic morning of rugby at Ashlawn Road saw OLs play neighbours and friendly rivals St Andrews.

Under 9s action between OLs and Saints on Sunday

Under 9s action between OLs and Saints on Sunday

OLs arrived with a strong squad of nearly 30 to play against their school friends. Most impressive of all where the OLs players that willingly stepped forward and volunteered to make up numbers in the St Andrew’s teams to make a competitive round robin of rugby, thus benefiting all the players.

From an OLs’ perspective there was some great use of space, accurate passing and some of the less confident players coming to the forefront to make those all-important try-saving tackles. It was a joy to watch for spectators and coaches alike, seeing the enormous improvement and progress that all the players have made but the most important thing was to see the huge smiles on all their faces both before, during and after the games. A great show of sportsmanship and friendship. This was an excellent reminder of why children benefit from playing team rugby and the amazing life-long friendships that form on and off the pitch.