On Monday 20th March 2017 Mr Thomas and Mr Longden took a group of twelve year 11 boys to London to play in the largest schools rugby tournament in the world with 170 teams entered in the Under 16 competition, Rosslyn Park 7’s. The squad of boys had trained at lunchtimes and after school for six weeks in preparation for this one tournament.
Pupils departed school at 16:00 equipped with high socks and sliders, the bus journey was far from boring with many classic songs being sung and every song that was played seemed to have a deep bass. Upon arriving in London the team enjoyed a very nutritional pre-tournament meal at Nandos, following this, there was a stop in a local shop for a quick protein drink (Ioan Evans) then back to the hotel for an early night (for most Lucas!!!).
In the morning the team enjoyed a full English and continental breakfast at the hotel with as much as they could eat then off 15 minutes down the road to Richardson Evans Memorial playing fields that boast 24 full-size rugby pitches.
Pontypridd High School were involved in one of the first games of the day against a very prestigious Clifton College team. Clifton took the initial lead and scored three early tries in the first half. After an explosive half-time team talk and a couple of substitutions, the boys kept their heads up and the comeback was on scoring two early second half tries. During the second half, possession was turned over by both sides and Clifton when down the middle to score their fourth, the boys responded quickly and almost straight from kick off struck straight back scoring in the corner. Unfortunately, time was against us at this point and Clifton won 26 – 19. The second half performance by the Pontypridd boys was just an appetiser for the rugby they were about to put on show in their next three pool games.
The second game was against another well-known rugby school, Monmouth. Monmouth took an early 7 point lead but this would be ignition that got our boys playing. After that Pontypridd High played perfect sevens, keeping the ball away from their opponents and stretching them from touch line to touch line. Eventually, the pressure told and we ran in two tries before half time. The second half saw more of the same, not only in attack but the defence stepped up and there was no way through for Monmouth. Every kick off was contested and when possession was won back there was no stopping the play makers. Pontypridd High ran in another three tries in the second half and the final score was Monmouth 7 Pontypridd High School 31.
After the second game due to the format of the group stages we had a two and half hour wait. In order to keep focused and energy in the legs the team visited the Skins tent located by the main pitch, in here the boys received recovery drinks and chilled out on sofas for half an hour whilst watching the main pitch streamed live on a flat screen TV.
The third game was against The Oratory School where Pontypridd High School sculpted one of the best games of rugby 7’s that can be played. Fast, electric play combined with hard hitting defence and composure under pressure resulted in Pontypridd High School drawing a wide audience of spectators from other schools, parents and referees. Two referees and two teachers commented that the performance by Pontypridd High School was the best that they had seen. Needless to say, Pontypridd High School were run away winners by 36 – 12.
After a long day and tired legs you would have been forgiven if you thought Pontypridd High School had given their best performance in the third game and left it all out on the field, this could not be further from the truth. The boys saved their best performance till last when they took on Tonbridge School. A thrilling end to end game where there was no margin for error. Both teams played exceptional rugby 7’s, moving the ball and keeping a high line in defence. Pontypridd were down at half time but the team spirit and bond was clear to see, the boys left everything on the field for each other and the badge and a last minute team try saw Pontypridd High School win 24 – 21.
In the end it turned out the first game was the group decider with only the winners from each pool progressing to the knock out stages. The boys should be extremely proud in the way they played and many other staff and officials commented on what good rugby 7’s they played.
This however was not the end, after a long soak in the bath back at the hotel the boys enjoyed another meal out reminiscing about their superb performance. On the Wednesday the boys slowly got up and we departed the hotel, but before returning to school there was a stop at what England rugby like to call HQ (Twickenham) for a stadium tour. The boys really enjoyed getting to see behind the scene areas such as President Suit, sitting in seats that royalty sit in such as Prince William and Prince Harry. There was also a stop in the home changing room where the boys sat in the players changing areas, this was followed by a run out of the tunnel, almost making to the pitch. Hopefully we will see some of the boys doing that from the away dressing room dressed in red in the future. After the tour it was back on the bus and back to school.
The next day the buzz around the school was amazing with pupils and staff very interested in the stories and congratulating the boys on their performance. The boys were a pleasure to take away and their performance on the pitch made a lot of schools take notice of Pontypridd High School.
Well done to all the boys and good luck in the future wherever your careers take you.
Kieran Gough, Ioan Evans, Jake Morgan, Lucus Welsh, Declan Davies, Cameron Lloyd, Kailum Johnson, Morgan Davies, Evan Lloyd, Morgan Llewelyn, Kian Cross, Alex John
For more photos from the day please visit the gallery section