Our U12 rugby team were jubilant on Sunday 7 October after a superb and determined series of performances earned them the runners-up trophy at the Finborough Festival.

The U12 team travelled to the festival confident in their ability following a fantastic start to the season, but aware a tough task lay ahead against several formidable teams.

The first game against St Faiths proved an attritional match, with the opposition bringing heavy ball-carriers and strong rucking and passing skills. Bedford Prep had to defend hard and soak up the pressure, but moved the ball better than the opposition at times – eventually crossing the line to claim an important victory over St Faiths and get the day off to a winning start.

The Finborough ‘B’ side in our second game consisted of several skilful players, but by moving the ball quickly through the hands and maintaining width, Bedford Prep came away with a comfortable win. The boys identified that our defence was less reliable in this game, folding underneath at times. This proved an important area for development as they moved through the day.

Taverham offered a different challenge, with several fantastically quick players. The Bedford Prep boys defended well and worked as a team, importantly maintaining the strong defensive lines they had identified, and running the ball hard to earn a 20-0 win.

In the final group game, the boys undoubtedly played the best rugby of the tournament; using free-flowing, running rugby with quick passing and some outstanding offloading out of the tackle to overturn a gutsy St Joseph’s side. This game was the benchmark of their performances; a level they should now be looking to maintain throughout the season.

Having won all their group games, the boys progressed into the top-tier triangular against an extremely physical Finborough ‘A’ side and a Greshams side playing a similar style to us, with eye-catching speed and passing.

The first match against Finborough was a physical and attritional battle. Bedford Prep were guilty of being pulled into a scrap, rather than playing our own style. When in possession, much of the ball we did have was scrappy as our rucking was under such pressure. Despite courageous defence from Bedford Prep, Finborough used their strong ball-carriers to get across the line in the second half to score – a score to which the boys were unable to reply.

With no time between this loss and the final game, the boys had to dig deep and raise themselves for a game against a fast-moving Greshams side. Here, Bedford found their rhythm again and crossed for two good tries in the first half, and despite a strong second half from Greshams, Bedford held on for a 10 – 0 win.

The boys finished runners-up, scoring 19 tries and conceding just one. This season, we have continually said that performance is more important than the result, and at times at this festival the boys were outstanding. Their next challenge is to play consistently at this level, developing our running lines from depth and ensuring that, especially when we find ourselves in a physical challenge, we continue to play at our pace and work hard to maintain front-foot ball.

A huge well done to all the boys who played with enormous pride and determination.

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