On Saturday 30th November, Wycombe Abbey, Changzhou hosted a milestone sporting event for the school. It was our first ever contact House Rugby competition for the boys and our first girls House Rugby competition between the new 6 houses inside our breathtaking Dome facility. Both tournaments were eagerly contested by a huge number of pupils across all 12 houses in the school and we hope to build on the huge success of the event to make it even bigger next year.
With the dome lights dimmed down and music blasting out, the atmosphere was set for an afternoon of exciting girls house rugby, with rules being a modified 7s touch format to make it more inclusive. Fonteyn made an extra special effort to support their team, bringing in bright orange pom poms and vuvuzelas.
Many of the teams came into the dome early to get in a good warm up before the matches started, with the more experienced girls who are in the school rugby team, leading those who were less familiar with the game. The lack of experience showed in some of the earlier games but there was a huge improvement as the afternoon went on from all the teams, especially Blyton who are mostly new pupils and have yet to come across the sport of rugby.
The favourites going into the tournament were Somerville and Dove, who met in the 4th round in a tight encounter. The teams were only separated by a superb solo effort from D. Wang, which was the try of the day.
Somerville then went into the last round against a resurgent Cavell team, who pushed them more than they expected, and the match ended up in a draw. Both teams were tied on overall points with officials having to check who scored the most tries throughout the tournament to see who finished in 2nd place, which was Somerville.
There were too many players to mention who stood out on the day for their performances, both those involved in the school rugby team and those who aren’t. But there were a few special performances worth mentioning. V. Chen from Cavell surprised many by scoring a couple of brilliant tries in the early matches. A. Zhao from Austen, who despite being a player more suited to the full contact version of the game, was one of the top try scorers of the day. A. Cui from Dove was always looking to get involved in the action, setting up many tries for her team. C. Guan from Blyton made some brilliant runs despite being the smallest player on the pitch.
The boy’s competition was played outside despite the cold and wet conditions on the main rugby pitch and it shows the strides forward that the boys have made that they didn’t complain and made up for the weather with their enthusiasm and excitement towards each and every match. For the U13/U15’s tournaments, two houses were combined, whilst the senior teams were comprised of house blocks.
In the U13’s, Scott/Newton combined to take the title despite drawing their first match against Blake/Elgar. In the final, winner takes all decider, they came out victorious against a competitive Hawking/Turner side with F. Wang scoring a handful of tries off the back of strong work from the likes of L. Sun and M. Qu. Special mentions must go to all the boys in year 7 who showed great heart and determination despite playing against boys a year older and bigger than themselves.
In the U15’s competition, Hawking/Elgar combined to run away with the tournament and scored a huge number of tries through the dynamic ball playing ability of C. Philpott and the elusive running of B. Sun. Runners-up in the tournament were Newton/Scott, followed by Blake/Turner. For the first time at the school, the U15’s played the new rugby concept of ‘Rugby X’. This is a new revolutionary rugby concept with 5 players per team and is a fast, free flowing style of rugby with minimal stoppages for set pieces.
The senior competition was the ‘battle of the blocks’, with ‘G’ block consisting of Blake/Hawking/Turner taking on ‘H’ block which consisted of Elgar/Newton/Scott. The 7’s style of expansive, open running rugby was swapped for a far more physical and combative brand due to both the nature of the conditions and the fact that friends were playing against one another and the two matches provided an opportunity they had all been waiting for. There were some outstanding performances from several of the seniors, and it was a credit to some boys who have far less rugby experience than their counterparts that they stepped up to the occasion for their houses and teams. K. Lin and N. Zhang repeatedly ran with power and ferocity, often choosing to run directly through the opposition instead of around them. On the other side, G. Sanzaro, W. Wang and N. Ni showed vast amounts of potential moving forward, through a combination of footwork and power, supplemented by clear game understanding. It was however the all-round game play of W. Hua who perhaps provided the difference between the two teams.
It was also fantastic to see the true values of the game of rugby being demonstrated by the senior boys after each game, with them hitting lumps out of each other one minute and then when the final whistle went, to see them hugging and congratulating one another, was a real credit to themselves as young men.
Finally, I would like to congratulate and thank every pupil that competed in both the boys and girl’s competition, the staff for refereeing the competition and finally Mr. R Carbutt for running such an outstanding girl’s competition. The aim with session of rugby we teach at Wycombe Abbey, Changzhou is to grow and develop the game at the school and we hope the 2019 House Rugby Competition can be the start of an annual school event that leaves a legacy for future generations to come. Well done to all those involved.