HAVANT RFC – PAUL ANCHOR EMERGING PLAYERS FESTIVAL
A beautiful sunny day in Havant saw the Winchester Under 7’s emerging squad contest the Paul Anchor Emerging Players Festival.
Ben Robinson, Darren Jupe and John Duxbury led a squad of 12 emerging players from the Under 7’s along with a large contingent of parents for help and support.
The squad were drawn in Pool A alongside the hosts Havant, New Milton and Trojans. The Pool stage saw a fine display of Winchesters much improved defensive skills which enabled them to keep their opponents at bay for long periods of the games. Some incisive running lines drew applause from the spectators backed up with solid support running from the squad throughout. In the set piece and during broken play Winchester pressed hard and gained the advantage over frequently less organised opponents. The effort and sportsmanship shown by the teams was faultless and a pleasure to witness.
An under strength Trojans were quickly dispatched while New Milton proved to be a more difficult prospect. This was to be the only hiccup of the day winning one game and losing the other by a very small margin. The hosts Havant were to be the final opponents of the Pool stage and the matches were strongly contested in front of a large home support. After a huge effort and some new improvised tactics, Winchester overpowered the hosts to win both games. The Pool stage saw Winchester score 41 recorded tries and display a mammoth effort in defence to achieve 5 wins out of 6 matches.
Winchester, Trojans, Wimbourne and a touring side from Jersey were to contest the finals of the cup stage. Wimbourne were to be our opponents in the semi-final. A tense start followed during which the team traded tries at either end of the pitch. During the second half Winchester came out the stronger teams and began to pull away from Wimbourne into what was to become a convincing victory for both Winchester teams. Their superior organisation and sheer determination saw them overcome a talented Wimbourne squad by several tries in each match. This proved to be a mere taste of what was to come in the final!
Winchester contested the final against a very strong Jersey team who in some cases seemed to dwarf the Winchester players. Jersey had obviously come on tour to enjoy themselves and a very fast, very strong start followed. The teams traded tries in a fast paced display of end to end rugby. The scores seesawed from one side to the other throughout both matches. The crowd were treated to a thrilling spectacle of running rugby which they warmly appreciated and applauded. The determination and resolve of both teams was tested to the full and both matches ended in a draw.
The results went to the organisers along with the head coach from each team. After a short discussion it was decided that joint winners would be declared and the trophy shared between Winchester and Jersey. Cue much jubilation from a very tired but happy Winchester squad who all seemed to perk up at the mention of medals and cups. The news was made all the more sweet with the message that the A Squad had also triumphed at the Hampshire A’s tournament.
The players showed just how far they have come over this season individually and as a squad. They played fast running, fluid rugby with incisive attacking skills, strong support play and very strong defensive displays. The improvement was clear for all to see and the players have much to be proud of in their achievements. It was clear to everyone present that they enjoyed themselves immensely and the sense of sportsmanship shown by all of the Winchester players was a credit to them and the club as a whole.
The coaches are very proud of the squad and the manner in which they played and triumphed. They have shown themselves to be deserved winners.