This time last year we predicted a step up in physicality as the boys entered the U14 season. We weren’t wrong and saw plenty of contests against physically big and demanding teams. Whilst we were often the smaller team on the pitch, a combination of fitness, ability and Old Pats spirit meant that we had some great wins through the season. Sadly, having battled our way out of a particularly tough group, our County Cup run was brought to an end by Stroud. Across the squad, we had sixty players registered, and worked hard to achieve a balance of fixtures that enabled all boys to play suitably competitive games. A more hands-off coaching approach worked well, with players developing their game sense and resilience as a result of having to think for themselves.
We expect the U15 season to be a challenging one, as the greater physicality that we saw last year is combined with increased speed and game awareness.
With physicality and speed inevitably come knocks and injuries. With boys playing rugby (and other sports) at school, parents play a vital role in making sure that the club and/or school are aware of any injuries.
This is especially important in the case of a concussion where strict protocols exist around the return to play. It’s not up to the school to inform the club (or vice versa); parents must communicate the information. For any injury occurring away from Old Pats, please inform the Team Manager (James Godden). For any injury occurring at Old Pats, please inform the school (and any other sports clubs as necessary).
Despite GRFU sadly deciding to knock the County Cup on the head this season, we have a fixtures list full of challenges for the boys and we can look forward to some thrilling games once again. With games extending to 30 minutes per half, we will be putting together larger squads for each fixture. This inevitably means that some boys will spend time on the bench; we will work hard to rotate players so that everyone gets a fair crack of the whip. This will also give us the opportunity to try different pairings and/or player positions. Looking at our fixtures, there is a mix of some very strong teams, some more middling clubs and a few development sides. This enables us to give players at all levels the chance to play for Old Pats. We will continue to select players in line with our 3A ethos of Attendance, Attitude and Ability whilst doing our best to ensure that games remain challenging but safe for all involved. At the very end of last season, we put a squad of players into the Cirencester 7s competition. This was a great success and we’ll look to do more of these competitions as U15s. These tend to take place in the second half of the season.
Aside from longer matches, the only significant rule change is the introduction of lifting in the line-out. To assist with boys learning this skill in safety, lineouts remain uncontested (and lifting is optional). However, this is a key skill for forwards to master as they progress to U16s and beyond.
When and where
Once again, we’re delighted to be training and playing our home games on Sunday mornings at Balcarras, 930 to 1100. We may run some midweek and/or Saturday morning sessions, but we know that not all boys will be able to attend and attendance won’t be compulsory.
The coaches and I look forward to another enjoyable season with you all. Thanks once again for your fantastic support.