In the Under 13 Hertfordshire county sevens tournament, the Haileybury squad represented the School above and beyond the call of duty. They were outstanding on and off the field of play. The day was blisteringly cold due to the wind chill factor but not once did the boys complain.
Haileybury had been drawn in the group of ‘death’ with school teams from St Columba’s, Richard Hale, last year’s winners Tring and Owen’s.
The opening game against St Columba’s provided to a tight affair with the team working off the rust of playing sevens and after half time had started to slip away from the 15-man style rugby to adapt to the new format and tactics, winning 28 – 24.
The second game was to be played against local school, Richard Hale, with many of the boys familiar to each other. Richard Hale kicked to Haileybury, but unfortunately for Richard Hale, the maturity of the Haileybury ball possession meant they were not to touch the ball for a further couple of minutes. This dominance was continued for the remainder of the game, with Haileybury winning 26 – 12.
The third match was against last year’s champions Tring, in a continuation of the positive ball possession and the emerging pressing game in defence, Haileybury achieved a resounding 21 – 0 win.
This left one match remaining against Owens, who looked more like an Under 15 team than an Under 13 one. Owens, like us, had won all their games so this was a game to dictate who would play for the plate or the cup.
Haileybury chose this game to unleash their after burners, with Calum Scutt and Christian Scales putting Owens to the sword with blistering pace and agility to accomplish the first target; we were group winners with a score of 32 – 19. Owen’s went on to win the Plate competition by some margin against Verulam.
In the semi finals, Haileybury were drawn against arch rivals, Bishop’s Stortford High School. Tristan Cummins had been getting a lot of comments on and off the field. The team answered the barrages by squashing them into submission, pace, intelligent tactics, a pressing defence and heroic tackling from Max Phillips on the biggest player in the tournament, by winning 42 – 26.
So to the final where we met QE Barnet. They were big and strong, we were small and agile. If David could beat Goliath, then the cup would be ours.
All started smoothly as Christian Scales caught the kick off and rounded the entire QE team to score within 30 seconds.
QE hit back with two tries but then Haileybury scored again, moving the ball wisely wide to allow Callum to score under the posts. So at half time, Haileybury were leading 14 – 12.
Undoubtedly, the half time talk from Mr Johns and Mr Payne-Cook worked on two levels. Firstly, to inspire Haileybury’s defence to self destruct and secondly to lose all shape in attack; dropping balls, throwing wild passes and kicking away possession. QE Barnet scored 26 points without reply, leaving Haileybury with the feeling of what if … we could have, we should have.
Final score 38 – 14.
On collecting the medals, special mention was made about the guile and pace of Christian Scales (undoubtedly the player of the tournament), but I would like to add a special mention to the only ever-present player throughout the tournament, Alessio Young, who performed the less glorious role of the team but most importantly created the space and direction for the pace to be utilised efficiently. Lastly, I would like to say wow to the smallest player on the pitch but certainly the bravest, Max Phillips, for his ‘tiger like’ defence and excellent support play.
The squad included:
James Brooking (captain), Tristan Cummins, George McConachie, Callum Scutt, Freddie Walker, Kieran Gale, Jason Addision, Alessio Young, Christian Scales, Max Phillips.