3rd xv win entertaining friendly
Cambridge 3rd XV 57- 24 Huntingdon 2nd XV
Huntingdon 2nd XV vs Cambridge 3rd XV
While I have the chronological details of the match, as this was a friendly I’ve decided just to do an overview because for me the day was about how we’ve progressed as a 3rd XV squad and what grass roots rugby is all about, at least in my view. As with all my reports the views are my own!
Huntingdon 2s are a squad who have reformed recently and are important to their club as the Colts setup I understand has somewhat imploded. They have a thriving Vets team doing well in their league. When Peter Tuck put out the call for opposition we threw our hat into the ring because it gave us an opportunity to get squad members who aren’t getting game time under the stricture of 18 player squads in league games. Today allowed Dick to get 80minutes and Jim Tebbitt to get his first run out for the team. George Borakis also made his debut, his first game since February after injury.
First of all a recognition that we can’t play this game of ours without the support of the referees. Peter struggled to source a ref from East Mids so I asked CUDRRS if anyone was looking for a game and Ben Whyall stepped up. Now we may have issues adjusting to Bens refereeing style, but that’s our problem, we thank him for volunteering and allowing 30 plus guys to get a game!
Huntingdon had only 14 players on the day and the next example of rugby spirit was Isa accepting the nomination of switching shirts and playing the whole game. Chapeau Isa!!! Due to injuries during the game George also spent some time in a Stags shirt, and respect to him for volunteering.
That meant Jon Pickerden, who only started playing touch in the summer took the field on the wing for his first ever game of rugby! That’s the next example of what we are as a squad, we are the entry point for adult rugby players new to the game. Now Jon was definitely nervous pre game and more nervous when told he was now starting! He looked from the sideline to have lost that nervousness during the game, he made tackles and most satisfying of all ran support lines when people made breaks so that the last score of the game was Jon taking the ball on the opposition 22 and outpacing the cover to touch down under the posts. For the coaching team just brilliant!
Cambridge have a fairly large senior squad, and this season both teams are playing in leagues, 1st XV in National 1 of course and the 2nd XV in the Zoo League. We’ve been part of the player development pathway over the last few years, initially when Rowland was here and this has continued under Ross. I can remember not so long ago attending a post season dinner and the Exiles coming in after winning the cup or league and not having any idea who on earth they were. They appeared at that stage to be a separate entity within the club.
Dick, Darren and I have worked hard over the last 5 years to break that view of us, to get more of the Colts to get their first introduction to adult rugby with us and to identify new players who have the ability to play at a higher level and push them up to train with the senior squad and grab their opportunity. That’s seen 5-6 make that move and has included players going all the way to the 1st XV. Last year with the lack of 2nd xv games we saw some of those ( Shane, Declan, Ben) come back to get game time. Over the last 2 years Darren has worked hard to build the relationship with the senior squad, we’ve never seen many of the senior squad drop down to get game fitness to support their return from injury etc. Louis Rawlings and Matthew Worrall Clarke were an exception to that. But as the squad have upped the standard of rugby we play we perhaps now offer a better opportunity. So Darren and I were pleased that after Ewan Kingdon playing last week today saw Matthew and Wade Schoeman take the opportunity to get game time to support their return to playing. We hope they enjoyed it, they both made strong runs and scored 2 tries. Both I believe may have been fined for ‘jug avoidance’.
It’s perhaps another sign of how the squad have developed that after a game where we’ve scored over 50 points we were somewhat critical of our performance in the post match huddle. It wasn’t all negative, there were some good support lines, Dan was prominent in that as well as Jon for his try. George, Julian and Damon made some good runs and the set piece went well. Bron was his usual abrasive self and scored 2 as well, Chris stepped in to scrum half and was elusive in his running. Our overall back play was ok but became more disjointed after Josh injured his wrist and Etienne having to step in to an unaccustomed position, there were opportunities out wide not seen in the 2nd half. Our defence was ok, one particular goal line stand stands out, though Huntingdon scored twice through well organised mauls from field positions achieved through our lack of discipline, something to work on before Renegades next week.