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Stockholm International 2010


Dear Rugby family,

 

Wow! That was some weekend. 24’ and blistering sunshine, 9´and pouring rain. Injuries given and taken. Crunching tackles and charges made. Tries won and lost. But most importantly, honour and integrity intact and improved upon. Despite the heavy schedule of refereeing and my responsibility to P15, I managed to see plenty of P17 action. Our constant ability to grow in strength, is in direct connection to our growth in match experience. As each match minute passed we could all see all of this “never say die” squad, start to form into the “glorious bastards” they are undoubtedly going to be. Weak minded, weak willed or weak hearted teams would allow early negative results to cloud their self-belief. But not our P17 Red Saints. These men are built of the right stuff, I only wish that I was 16 again, and could be privileged to play alongside them. I love to train them together with Richard and Guy, but hate to not to be able to see and help at all their matches. My only comfort is that I have 100% faith in P17 and Richard and Guy, and next year, we will all be united at P17 level. I have read, and agree whole heartedly with Guy`s report.

 

P15 – Let us not be candid, nor look for excuses. Our first matches on Saturday were not what they should have been.  10-10 against Erikslund, losing 5-25 to Gothenburg, this was not what I expected. Maybe due to misplaced over confidence following Norrköping and a gold medal, or perhaps the opposition feared, and fought against our newly achieved “top dog” position. I believe it was a mixture. Everything could have gone terribly wrong. But, as usual, not for these men. They dug deep, re-assessed the situation, and returned to their old selves, and our Red Saints dished-out and displayed a punishing 50-10 against Södertälje. So a quick summary: Pl. 3 W1 D1 L1. Not the ideal first day.

 

Sunday was a new day, cold and rainy in May, I was right at home, and apparently so were P15. They all arrived early, and in great spirits. Sometimes you just get a feeling inside, and this was not the ghost of Norrköping’s 800g of cod for breakfast. Our account opened with a 30-0 destruction of Exiles, (could and should have been more) but with a wet and slippery ball, a water-logged pitch, and a huge weather and temperature change, this was the positive start that we wanted. Four hours later!?  Speed, a Danish team with an unsavory reputation (I have refereed their matches before) picked a fight with the wrong team at the wrong time and in the wrong place. More fool them!

 

The squad and I took a very serious and gradual warm-up. Discussing and realizing the task ahead. We know that we have the physical strength, and the skill. But it is the ability to put our brains in-charge, and not our biceps nor our mouths, this is what makes us the commanding and winning team. Despite their attempts to bring this match into disrepute through foul language, and even more foul play, they found themselves lacking on every level. Our men could not and would not be pulled down to their level. But when challenged (in an impropriate manner) following a man on man confrontation, the Speed boys backed down to the Saint’s men. The culmination of our  100% return to 100% discipline through training and strategy;  we were now in the final. The battle for first place, and our second Gold of the season, in the season’s second tournament. This type of tournament,(round robin) can be misleading after the first round. But that which it teaches us is, the strongest survive. Providing that the trainers and the teams do not cheat, by bringing in extra, and elite players (such as academy players) the fight should be fare.

 

Honesty, fair-play, justice and co-operation between our two (Red Saints and Trojan) clubs at P17 level proved to be ironic, when the two best clubs, with a constantly growing close relationship arrived in-front of each-other to decide upon the P15 Gold. Neither team had squad members that wimped-out due to false/coward injuries, the truth be known, Axel Bergström was convinced that despite being obviously concussed, tried to convince us all that he could continue. I will be making sure that in the future Axel and Jake do not form a “we know better than you society”. - So, two great teams and 24 minutes. But! Wait a moment. Johan rallied the parents before the match. This was a first! Players and parents and vice-versa, looking each-other in the eye, this was not a stand-off, this was bonding. A show of respect, culminating in the best-ever huddle I have been involved in.

 

As usual the chips were down. A squad of injured, but determined men. An opposition, out-numbering us with an obviously equally strong desire to win. A battle that could only lead to the obvious – 10-10. So 5 minutes-first try wins. As line judge I had to disallow Sean’s try. The final result 10-10. The two teams lined up opposite each other on the half-way line. The two opposing captains (Zaga & Sean best friends from the academy) stepped forward and hugged each other as only real men of Rugby can. Simultaneously myself and my old friends from Norrköping celebrated in the same way. Now the choice had to be made – share the Gold or play Russian Roulette. – Who has scored the most tries. I do not gamble. Ever. Norrköping wanted to call a draw. But our men play to win and I would never let them down, nor compromise their honour. A horrible wait time was incurred for both teams. But thank god, Cecilia, being Cecilia raced to-waited for-and returned with the final result. Our men had scored more tries during the tournament; proving our Red Saints, the outright and deserved winners of the Stockholm International Rugby Cup.

 

Nigel

Uppdaterad: 27 AUG 2010 21:08 Skribent: Nigel Matthews

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