Rugby: 1st XV Season Review 2013/14
The start of the season is always a difficult one, with games against the likes of Holmewood House, Brighton College and Hurst in the opening couple of weeks.
In a mirror image of last season we also struggled with injuries to key players before Christmas, but despite the tough matches with a depleted team we put in some tremendous performances.
We may have lost our opener away to Holmewood House but with the score at 10-7 at half time we really made them work hard and the final score of 34-17 was by no means a disgrace.
We went into the Brighton College game full of heart but without Franchuk, who broke his finger in the warm up against Holmewood but chose not to tell anybody! It was not the best Brighton College team we have ever faced but it was still a great effort to beat them 29-0.
I was worried about the Great Walstead game because we could only draw against them last year when 13 of their team were Year 7s! They were going to be even stronger this year as Year 8s and we did well to lose only 12-29, particularly with Doubtfire and Manning joining Franchuk on the injured list!
Our 42-5 loss against Hurst was probably the low point of the season. Sylvester-Williams added himself to the growing list of injuries and for the first time that I can remember we put out a 1st XV containing more Year 7's than Year 8's.
Hurst were just too big and too good. The nice thing is that when we played them again after Christmas with our players back from injury we lost again, but only narrowly, 19-26. If that was close we were even more unlucky to lose 7-10 to DCPS.
With players coming back from injury after the Christmas break we were now pushing some very good rugby schools very close and we lost to St Christopher's 7-15 before gaining a comfortable and well-earned 29-0 win against Windlesham House. We also then went on to beat Claremont 35-0.
We were now playing some very good Rugby and having lost to St Andrew's 0-29 before Christmas it was good to narrow it down to 7-22 after Christmas, having led 7-5 at half time. Unfortunately, just as we were starting to play really well the weather took control and winnable matches against Vinehall, Yardley Court and Cumnor House were all cancelled.
Alastair Orr captained the team superbly and was one of the few ever-presents and always led by example. Doubtfire was the undoubted star in the pack with his aggression, strength and commitment, with Hodierne, Scott and Parish in support. Gordon was our main 'line-breaker' in the backs, and Thompson and Manning showed everybody how to tackle.
If this year's 1st XV performed well then things look even more promising for next year.
Faulkner-Bryant, Sampson, Hart and Collett will all have benefited from their experience in the Firsts this year and the U12s won their matches against Gildredge House, Steyning Grammar and Uplands in the Sussex Cup, before losing to St Andrew's 28-33 in the semi final.
Colours: Orr, Doubtfire, Gordon, Scott, Hodierne, Thompson, Parish