After the excitement of the International 7s competition in Aldershot the previous Wednesday, the team completed the long drive up to Edinburgh to participate in the Edinburgh Rugby Rocks leg at Boroughmuir Rugby Club. As with previous years, the location looked great and the teams entered promised to make it a great competition for the weekend.
After a quick run out on the Friday evening to remove the cobwebs from their legs the team was ready for their first opponents United Against Cancer, a team made up from the local community that had some very good players supporting a great charity. From the start the Reds came out fighting and ready for the challenges of the day with a try being score within 40 seconds by “Bish” the flying Welshman new to the team, this followed by another two converted tries to give a lead at the break of 17-7. After the break the change to defence mode made the Reds work hard in keeping United Against Cancer at bay leaving only 2 tries being scored to give the final score of 31-7, a good start which saw the team attack hard and also defend solidly, but more importantly promoting a great game.
Next in the pool stages were Wooden Spoons, a team who in the opening rounds earlier in the day shone with quality and pace ready to take on the Reds. From the start both teams attacked with possession being evenly exchanged before the first try being scored by “Ice” using his blistering pace to score under the posts followed by a try from each team to give a score at the break 14-7 to the Reds. Immediately after the break, “Swanny” captured the ball from the kick off to thunder down the field and score a try in 32 seconds which left everyone speechless. This then followed a period of play seeing both team scoring converted tries, the final try going to Wooden Spoons at 8 minutes and 48 seconds to give a final score of 28-26 to the Reds, what a battle that was truly appreciated by the crowd watching the game.
Samurai Scottish was next in the pool, a team made up from Scotland National players and some of the local premiership players. The first try being scored by Scottish pushed the Reds defence all the way seeing the final gap in the armour coming in the corner followed by the Reds scoring two unconverted tries to see the score at the break 10-5 to the Reds. After the break it was a different Scottish team that came out of the blocks, running 3 unanswered tries, the Reds had to work hard in defence to keep the try countdown to see the final score 24-10 to the Scottish.
The final pool game was against Penguins, a team that had quality players who looked, both on and off the pitch, a professional outfit. This was proven immediately after the kick off seeing the Penguins score their first try just under the minute which informed the Reds that this was going to be a challenging game. Not wanting to lose two games on the bounce, the Reds scrambled to score two tries to give a lead at the break of 12-5. After the break both teams came out with all guns blazing, outstanding defence saw potential tries being defended to the pleasure of the crowds. However, someone had to win and with two tries each, the Reds walked away relieved with the win 26-17 and a place in the semi finals against our old rivals Esher.
After repairing the ballet scars of the pool rounds, the Reds were up for the battle of the Semi Final, walking onto the park they were focused and ready for the off. Whistle and kick off complete, the Reds had the major part of possession for the first half starving the opposition of the ball and any chance to organise an attack seeing the Reds going in at the break 19-0 up with tries from Jim, Ice and Swanny. Esher regrouped and came out a different team after the break, they came out of the blocks and immediately pressured the Reds for the full 7+ minutes, great running lines pushed the Reds throughout until the last period of play of the half, the Reds defence upset the ball to see Jack steal the ball and gallop to the line to give a final score of 24-0 to the Reds. The score might look impressive, but Esher is a great outfit which did put the team under immense pressure and challenged throughout.
The last game of the day was going to be one of the crowds’ favorite, “The South”, a team comprising of both professional and amateur players that came from Scotland’s heart of rugby playing clubs with a strong reputation. Running on to the pitch flanked by the local cheerleaders, this was going to be a final to remember. Cheers generating ready for the referee to blow the whistle which saw both teams totally focused in providing a game of rugby that was worthy to be called a final. From the Reds kick off, a knock back under pressure saw the Reds capitalise on a gap seeing “Jack” run in for the first try of the game within 26 seconds in the right hand corner of the field. Next saw the Reds applying pressure in the tackle zones that finally saw a turnover in possession to see “Sami” commence his rhinos charge scoring between the posts. The South, shocked by the start, rallied to run in 4 tries giving them the lead at the midway point 26-17. After the break, it was cool heads and controlled passion that was prescribed by the coaching team to see the Reds change gear and look like a team that wasn’t ready to take a backwards step. From the restart, Reds won the ball and with slick hands passed the ball to the running mountain and see “Ben” charge for the line scoring close to the posts. Following the next restart, the forwards led by “Swanny” battled every contest to finally see the ball turned over and “Jack” and man with many talents punished the opposition by scoring between the posts. Like the first half, The South were shocked, along with the crowds, but this time the Reds were not going to take a step backwards, led by the skipper “Zack” who is one of the smallest members of the team saw him tackling probably the largest person on the pitch to change possession and saw Reds attack for the line to be finally stopped by a high tackle which saw the referee award a penalty try. In the last minutes of the second half again saw the Reds attack the contact zone to see the ball being turned over and the second smallest man LCpl Matacagi on the pitch run a blistering line through the field to score the deadly blow in the final minute to silence the crowd and see the Reds score 4 converted unanswered tries giving a score of 45-26 at the final whistle. The most impressive thing to all neutrals around the park was the defence and the scoring of the 4 unanswered tries that killed the game, outstanding play.
For the team, this week was an emotional one that tested the body and soul, the main thing was the ability of the team to stand together shoulder to shoulder and look in the faces of adversity and stand up when it counted. For the coaching team, this was a new team that is coming together and over the last month has been on a journey as a team committed to play rugby for all those serving on the battlefield.
Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!