IRONSIDES U16 AGE GROUP FOCUS
The Ironsides U16 team and their hosts from Trowbridge RFC
Ironsides U16s triumph in Trowbridge
Ironsides U16s had a memorable trip to the west country recently to play Wiltshire county finalists Trowbridge RFC. Trowbridge gave us a very warm welcome for the fixture - arranged by our new coach Jackson Szabo with his old club – as well as a challenging contest on the pitch.
The match was played in a great spirit: clean and fair and with Ironsides showing remarkable flair in cold and blustery weather conditions. The backs benefitted from some stirring and technically strong forward play and rewarded the effort with some sublime passing and running. Defence was well organised and resolute. A great all round team performance.
Despite a few injuries and illness in the squad limiting the number of substitutes available, Ironsides came out on top 36 – 17, scoring six tries to Trowbridge’s three.
Ironsides players clapped through the tunnel by Trowbridge and exchanging gifts in the clubhouse
Ironsides received great hospitality from their hosts after the match and plan to build on our relationship with this lovely, friendly club: we are planning a return fixture before the end of the season.
The Ironsides U16s squad and season so far…
The Ironsides U16s have a squad of 30 registered players and 5 coaches as well as our hardworking manager Sally Horder. We have brought in a new coach this season – Jackson Szebo who has brought valuable recent playing experience to the coaching team having played himself at academy standard and at University with an opportunity to play professional rugby for Swansea. We also have a professional S&C coach Jason St Clair who trains any of the boys who can make it to the Foundry Gym on a Wednesday and Friday after school as well as providing training programs and fantastic warm up sessions for the lads at the pitch side. Kris and Mick provide invaluable continuity to the team. It also means we almost always have 2 coaches available to take training. This has provided another level for the boys and we have as a group began working on developing a structure and an enhanced understanding of play and game management as well as the boys taking on the importance of fitness, strength and agility as the game continues to evolve. Most importantly we continue to provide the boys with opportunities to have the ball in hand and make decisions. All of this is squashed into 2 hours on a Sunday morning or in a game somewhere.
In some ways we have been victims of our own success over the past few seasons with lots of our boys playing first team rugby for their school. You can go to any tournament and find boys from our age group playing for Dulwich, The London Oratory, Graveney, Whitgift, Wimbledon College, Brighton College, Wellington, Cardinal Vaughan, Tonbridge, John Fisher, St Edmunds, Trinity and Eton, in fact this was my experience when I went to a recent 7’s tournament at Queen Elizabeth’s in Barnet. Some of these lads still train with us regularly but others find it too much, with either being away or the pressure of study and other rugby/sports commitments.
We have also had great success this season at county level with Xavier, Daniel and Tom B playing for Surrey as well as some of our past players Piero, Malachi and Andre. We had 14 boys trial for Surrey having been put forward by Quins, Surrey Dev, their school or club, and they all performed very well. Darragh continues with the uR7’s national academy and has recently played for Irish Exiles. Ben P continues with Quins Academy and Eoin and Darragh have played for them this season too as well as ex-players Malachi and Piero. We have had new boys and old boys join this season and over the last few seasons from Ernest Bevin, Fulham Boys and Graveney. Our captain Tom Wilkins certainly leads from the front and has grown immeasurably in the role as the season progresses. He never misses training, is polite and encouraging and hard talking when needed but will hit you like a train on the park.
There is no doubt that these boys want to represent Ironsides and some are starting to pay back to the club, helping out at the Christmas lunch for vets, at the 75th Anniversary dinner and completing their refereeing badges. It is always a challenge though having enough lads to play with so much going on and sometimes this season we have had to ask boys to fill in to play in different positions etc. so that the game goes ahead, they do this very well.
Joe, Charlie and Tom W at Twickenham 75th to help with service
Our last game this season will be at the Quins Cup Finals day v Dorking for 7th/8th place play off and it would be great to finish well with only 2 losses this season.
Overall we have a mix of abilities but the boys are all showing progress and are challenging each other to improve. We look forward to joining forces next season with current u17’s and strengthening the squad.
Lastly I love hearing back from others about the boys. Wendy, Richard and Ciaron have often commented on how mannerly and polite they are around the club. They are open to new ideas, even taking part in a dance off to start a game and having a team handshake not to mention their love of a microphone and a bit of karaoke.
Well done boys.
Ellen Walsh, U16 Head Coach
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