U12s UPHOLD FINEST TRADITIONS OF QUINS RUGBY AT SARACENS FESTIVAL
By Neil SINCLAIR
Running rugby is the winner for Mini Quins at first spring festival
The Under 12s had a superb day at the Saracens Festival on Sunday. The long trek to Southgate proved more than worth it: the Festival was superbly well-organised and the fifteen Mini Quins who made the trip played some heart-warming rugby, a tribute to the boys own progress, their indomitable team spirit and a great relief to the coaching team!
The first match was a fourteen minute revenge for the Pro's defeat at London Stadium the previous day. The boys demonstrated some great handling and passing, as well as great running skills, notably from Wilf. Defensively, the team relied a little too heavily on the omnipresent Ollie and the sheer physical presence of Frankie, Ted and Ben, and it was obvious that Quins scrummaging and rucking was some way behind the quality of the hosts. But with Gabriel buzzing round the fringes, Quins secured more than their fair share of possession and ran away with a resounding 6-1 victory.
Next up was Hampstead, a well-drilled and bulky unit. Our boys felt that the best preparation for this challenge was twenty minutes on their iPhones and the handling and defence was little more than a virtual reality. Hampstead raced into a two score lead before Quins tuned back in and it was possibly only the handling errors by both sides that prevented the half-time margin being even greater. The second half saw Quins playing down the slope and a scrum-half bossing the fringes. Mack, Cash, Aran and Josh started to make inroads with the ball in hand and, frustrated by a lack of possession, Hampstead took out Quins subscriptions and played several feet beyond the gain line. Quins played a driving game - who taught them that? - as it became increasingly difficult to spin the ball wide and battled back to score a fine try and it looked like they had the upper hand. Unfortunately, a head injury to one of Hampstead's boys resulted in the game finishing two minutes early and Quins suffered a frustrating 1-2 reverse.
Game 3 was against our well-known friends, Hammersmith & Fulham. This time, the squad spent ten minutes warming up with physical contact, and what a difference it made! But I hope the reader will forgive me if I say that this was even more of Gabriel's show than Christmas. In a demonstration of scrum-half play that would have graced any arena, Gabe ran in four tries and even managed to drop the ball when over the line for a fifth as his gumshield flew out of his mouth! But, like Christmas, this was not just about Gabriel. The whole team played unbelievably well. The first half brought what the Competition's time-keeper acclaimed as the "try of the tournament": Mack picked up a lose ball just inside his own half and fed Gabe. Gabe whizzed out a pass to Wilf who tore down the left wing and, as the cover closed in, he off-loaded back to Gabe. The ball fizzed back across the pitch via Ted, Ollie and Ben before a John Dawes-like pass from Matthew took out the remaining defenders and Drummond crashed over for a magnificent score. The really astonishing and pleasing part was that, if the worst had happened, Drummond could have off-loaded to half the team, including Wilf and Gabriel who had followed the play from left to right. Whilst this passage of play was outstanding, it was a feature of the whole day for Quins. Occasionally, the bigger boys revert to carrying the ball in one hand and trying to off-load out of the back but for the most part the running game is exemplary. Quins closed out a 7-0 victory (6-0 being the official maximum allowed) and now looked forward to a tournament decider against Amersham.
Once again, Quins went through a physical warm-up including the rather unedifying spectacle of your reporter, a confirmed "piano player", scrummaging against Frankie. Amersham are a very large and skilful set-up. Quins started with Frankie sidelined nothing to do with our warm-up! and the artificially created hole he left was probably exploited by the opponents. Quins started playing up the hill and were soon under the cosh. Quins tackling improved throughout the day and now Finlay, Ben (who retained his beanie hat throughout) and Harry were happily and bravely putting their bodies on the line for the greater cause. But there is still that general fear of taking on someone moving at speed and even more of tackling from behind, and Amersham took advantage of this weakness to notch up two tries without ever dominating the close-quarter exchanges. Quins also appeared slightly intimidated by the size and speed of Amersham, some of the handling losing its precision of earlier matches. The second half brought more control and Quins exerting their authority, once again zipping out the passes and making Amersham chase round the field: Ted appeared to crash over in the left corner, only for the referee to call it back for a 5 metre scrum. Quins eventually got themselves on the score sheet and it looked as though it was only time before the equaliser came. Unfortunately, a fumble and turnover on the Amersham line saw play inch its way back up the hill and then an injury to an Amersham player ran down the clock and it was another 1-2 defeat.
All in all, it was a very successful morning. The boys loved it, the Dads loved it and there is a lot to be proud of for us all. With the Twickenham Festival and our own Festival to come, we can look forward to the uncertain glories of an April day with thanks to William Shakespeare and/or apologies to TS Eliot