Bridgewater arrived at Manchester Grammar School on Monday, expecting an afternoon of free running and frantic chasing in the Tag Rugby Festival. However, the tags were tossed aside, and all twelve schools scrummed down for some genuine contact rugby. The officiating and coaching on offer was educational and engaging, allowing for players to develop from touch rugby into playing on at the break down in super quick fashion.
With less practical playing experience than any of the teams present, Bridgewater were to impress everyone present with their rapid progress as the tournament went on.
In the first game against St Mary’s the six touch tackles before turn over ball suited the Bridgewater youngsters, who were not accustomed to having to tackle a player, rather than grab a tag! The agility and speed of runners Luca and Tommy also meant that going forward, Bridgewater had fantastic scoring potential. St Mary’s scored two tries, but they were no match for the powerful running of Tommy and Luca, who scored tries in an impressive opening 6-2 win.
In the second game against Kings of Lytham, Bridgewater started to show an eagerness in the tackle and were electric going forward. Luca, Tommy and Kian all scored two tries each to secure an excellent 6-3 win. The team followed this up with another superb performance against Birkenhead School. An end to end game saw both teams scoring to match each other until the score reached 3-3. From that point, the defence took over for Bridgewater and tries from Luca, Toby and a brilliant four tries for Tommy Jack, gave Bridgewater a 6-4 victory.
At this point in the tournament, the team had made so much progress the referees were encouraging a more open and free flowing game. Tags … who needs tags? A local derby against Bolton School proved to be an absolute thriller. Once again, both teams exchanged tries, with Toby and a hattrick from Luca taking the score to 4-4. However, with time running out, Tommy picked up the ball on half way to run in a great solo try to give Bridgewater a shock 5-4 win.
The next scalp that the team took was that of The Grange. Another closely fought game saw Bridgewater come out on top with a 6-4 score line. Tries from Toby, Tommy and another four from the impressive Luca kept Bridgewater unbeaten going into a double header against Merchant Taylor’s, Liverpool. Bridgewater took the lead through Luca once more, but this was to be the team’s only try of the match. Anton was busily driving the team on with probing runs and passes, but the team had to defend far more in this one. By now, the games had become far more physical and players were having to recycle and off load in the tackle. The Liverpool team were also far more aggressive in the tackle and this disrupted one or two of the team. In the end, Bridgewater lost a bruising battle by 2-1, but the progression the team had made from game one was outstanding.
In the final game of the day, Bridgewater exacted some revenge on Merchant Taylor’s by beating their B team 6-2. Toby scores two, Luca and Tommy added another, with Kian scoring a fine solo run. The final move of the day saw Alex and Tom link up to see Frankie cross the line for a much-deserved try. Every referee and teacher complimented the Bridgewater team on their exemplary behaviour, attitude and application. The team was selected as the most improved and best defence, with Luca singles out as the outstanding player of the tournament. There was no trophy to play for, but Bridgewater would certainly been in the running to bring it back. A fabulous afternoon of rugby that was inspirational to watch and everyone involved can be proud of. Well done team!