As late decisions go, the one to enter the annual u9’s Tag Rugby ISA Tournament has to be one of the more inspired. Bridgewater took a Prep III and a Prep IV team to the event at Manchester RUFC in Stockport this week, with hopes of having fun and learning more about the game. Both teams ended up leaving with enormous credit and an impressive looking trophy. Prep III surpassed expectations with their enthusiasm and determination, whilst Prep IV won all six of their games to surprise all and take the title of Northern ISA Tag Rugby Champions.

Prep IV took on hosts Greenbank Prep in their opening fixture and quickly got to grips with the tactics set out for the team. Run and keep running with the ball, do not drop it, do not pass it forward and do not run out of bounds! To a man they carried this out all day and whenever the opposition had the ball, they hunted down their tags with the eagerness of a hungry bear! Tries from Tomas, Matteo and Harper propelled the team to a great 3-1 win. Meanwhile Prep III opened up against Hale and narrowly lost 4-3, despite tries from Alfie (2) and Luca, in an end to end thriller.

Round 2 of games saw Prep IV take on an impressive team from Queen Ethelburga’s, who were clearly more experienced in rugby. However, the defending from Bridgewater was too fierce for their opponents and thanks to two brilliant solo runs from Harper, a 2-1 win was achieved. Prep III took on The Grange and Alfie was in terrific form as he scored a hat-trick of tries, but it was Joshua who scored the crucial try to give Bridgewater a much deserved point in another high scoring 4-4 draw.

Round 3 of games proved to be thrilling for both teams, as everyone became more familiar with the rules. Prep IV ran out 5-3 winners in an all- out attacking game from both sides. Tries from Harper (2), Tomas, Jaydon and Matteo were enough to see off Hale Prep in a very exciting game to watch. Prep III meanwhile took on Cransley and got their first win of the day thanks to another Alfie try.

Round 4 started to take on more meaning as Prep IV got that title winning feeling. What turned out to be the most important win of the tournament came following tries from Jaydon, Harper and Matteo. The Grange had arrived with justifiable title ambitions, but they were no match for the relentless drive and determination from the Bridgewater team who held onto for a 3-2 win. The result of the day however, probably goes to Prep III who ran riot against Queen Ethelburga’s in a stunning 5-1 victory. Tries from Alfie (3) and Joshua(2), stunned their opponents and gave the team some much deserved applause for their performances all round.

After lunch, it was hard to get back up to speed in the first games and Prep IV fell behind early on to Cransley. Fortunately, captain Tomas was in no mood to see victory snatched away and he pushed his team forwards at every occasion.  It was a hard fought battle against with both teams knowing a loss would end their title challenge and both went for tries like life’s depended on it! In the end, a stunning trio of tries from Matteo saw Bridgewater come out on top 3-2 and set them up for a final game, knowing a win would see them crowned as ISA Northern Champions. The only team left able to stop them was now………Prep III.

However, Prep III had one more game to go before they could try and spoil their teammates march to the trophy. Another thrilling game saw the youngster’s go down 4-3 to Greenbank Prep. Tries from Alfie, Joshua and Toby matched the opposition scores, but despite a sensational last minute run from Molly, they could not get the final try to give them the draw they so richly deserved.

With all to play for in the final game, medals and perhaps more importantly, Bridgewater bragging rights, the game started at a frenetic pace.  An early try from Craig settled the nerves, only for Alfie to tie the score up with a sensational solo try. Fortunately, despite some heroic defending from their younger friends from Prep III, an additional try from Craig was added to by David and  to give Prep IV a 4-1 win and a brilliantly unexpected 100% winning record on the day.

All that remained of the day was to take some team photos, exchanged rugby stories with each team and to collect the ISA trophy to bring back home to Bridgewater. It was a fantastic day for all players and both teams showed a team spirit and a desire to work for each other that was a delight to see. The speed that all players picked up the rules of the game was equally impressive and each players skill level and understanding of the game went up dramatically throughout the tournament. A memorable day all round- well done Prep III and Prep IV Tag Rugby teams!

Bridgewater Prep IV triumph at the ISA Tag Rugby Tournament

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