What a season the OAs u11s have had:
– new rules
– new challenges
– new faces
… and everyone has had a lot of fun along the way with some cracking social events and fab tours.
This has been the most challenging season for the u11s thus far in their rugby careers with the new u11 rules, maintaining the high tempo fast handling game the tag years developed, whilst the tackling skills and initial rucking and mauling work from the u9 and u10 seasons really start to kick in with strong defences and very competitive breakdowns – without the respite the XV a side game gives with natural “comfort” breaks at the line out and eight man scrum.
The players have shown great application and dedication to this more demanding game and they have been rewarded with some great performances across the season both in club fixtures and fests.
The autumn was kicked off by a very strong showing at the Bedford and Stortford Fests with some more challenging trips to Rosslyn Park and the Beaconsfield A fest, as we continue to travel beyond our normal borders to seek out fixtures against some of the biggest and best clubs in the South East of England .
We entered 2 sides into our very own Dev Fest and that reflected all that is good about the new age grade rugby approach ,with the festivals being celebrations of rugby rather than pot hunting affairs but, as ever, very competitive as all teams strive to go unbeaten and put in great performances.
The winter period gave us some great club fixtures including away trips to Rosslyn Park and fixtures with local friends and rivals at Harpenden / Stortford / Hertford / Tring and some tough match ups with Luton and Letchworth along the way.
We had the first of our big socials with a fab trip on the u11 charabanc to England v Fiji and a half time run out at the Sarries v Leicester game – both of which were great fun.
The end of season festival period was kicked off with a trophy winning performance at the Hertford B Floodlight Fest and good showings at the Olney and Beaconsfield Dev fests, as well as the Tring A/B fests which was as competitive and enjoyable as ever.
The coaches were very pleased by the performances of all 5 of our sides at the major Herts County Fest this year, well hosted by our friends at Harpenden RFC and all sides played hi tempo rugby with a willingness to move the ball, based on a strong pressing defence line and rigorous rucking .
It has not all been easy and the new rules and new challenges have resulted in a number of our players taking a break from the sport as the season moved on, but the door is always open to those players to come back to us in the seasons to come and we are still 60 strong with a group of players that want to play the game and enjoy all the benefits the game gives.
We have had some new joiners that have all made a positive impact in their time with us and it’s great to have those players on board.
We have had our fair share of injuries this season (mostly playground related) as the players are growing fast and their bodies stretch and become less wielded at times. We have had a couple of concussions and are now well versed in the need to manage all injuries, but particularly head knocks, carefully back into play.
We finished the season with some great events and tours.
The players game of honour trip to Sarries v Glasgow in the ECC Qtr final resulted in the tour group getting tickets for the fantastic ECC semi final v Munster at the Aviva stadium whilst on the Age Group tour in Dublin. A memory that will live with all attending for a very long time.
The players had a great craic in Dublin with a fixture v Old Suttonians on the 1st am and a great showing in the major Seapoint Blitz on the Sunday ,which has to be one of the best organised fests we’ve attended over the seasons. A titanic match up and a big rendition of the OAs club song with our hosts from Seapoint were highlights from the tour.
At the same time the rest of the age group attended the very high standard London Irish 6 nations fest ( which shows us how high the bar is set not just in the Home Counties but across the 4 home nations and Europe) and the Cambridge fest.
We were pleased to send a team to the very successful club tour to Camber and close the season on a real high.
Lots of people make all this come together and thanks to all our coaches / volunteers and parents for their support and enthusiasm across the season .
A special thanks to:
– Laura, Ronda and David on various administration fronts
– all our excellent 1st aiders
– Adam, Tim and Neil for coordinating our big social events (the Twickers 7s was another highlight)
– and our tour teams Robert and Kim plus Anthea and Dai
without whom this successful season wouldn’t have come together .
As we close this season we have to say a few goodbyes to players such as Jed A who is now overseas and Jed L and Liam L who’ll be chasing another shaped ball next season (but the door will always be open for them to return along with their excellent coach dads in seasons to come).
It’s also sad to see Flo move on but we are delighted she will be joining OAs Saints in September and I’m sure she ll have a great time with Craig Ihlenfeldt and the Saints.
Looking forward to another great season in September already with a new set of rules and more fun ahead.
Come on OAs…..