Saturday 10 November was a brilliant day for the Bedford School Rugby Club, with 35 fixtures involving 700 boys across the Prep and Upper School – quite possibly a record number of boys playing all on the same day.
The 1st XV could not have had a much harder test on the first weekend back after half-term. From the off, Warwick came at them in organised waves, but Bedford’s committed defence held firm. The 1st XV struggled to relieve pressure at key times and their defence was eventually breached after 20 minutes. The conditions were testing but the boys will regret basic errors that cost territory and possession. Plenty to reflect on but simple areas to put right before Oakham next week. The rest of the senior sides had more even battles with the 3rd team producing a committed performance to sneak a memorable win.
The U16 A team’s convincing score line did not really tell the true story of the game. The Bedford boys produced some great rugby but struggled to finish opportunities against a more clinical opposition. They should take heart from their performance as it was close to clicking for them; surely, success is just around the corner. The U16 B team followed a similar fate, but again the boys showed no lack of desire and commitment and continue to improve every game. The U16 C team won their game, and huge credit must go the five Bedford players who agreed to play for the opposition and played their hearts out.
The U15 A team produced their top performance of the season to date. They have certainly moved on from the first half of the season and they demonstrated their ability to move the ball freely and exploit space. Their contact skills and defensive shape were excellent, managing to hold firm against some very physical opposition players. The strength in depth also prevailed, with all U15 teams seeming to have the luxury of playing on the front foot through positive ball movement and committed running and tackling.
The U14s faced physical and well-organised opposition, but this did not mean they took a back step. They fronted up in every aspect and can be proud of their efforts. The U14 C team won their game, impressively managing to keep a clean sheet.
Two teams went down to Harrow and were an amalgamation of E and F team players. One of the games was a full contact affair against Harrow’s F side and the other was a touch match to suit their academy side. Our hope was for the two Bedford teams to switch round and play a second match so that all our boys got involved in full contact but the atrocious weather meant this was not to be. Despite the absolutely appalling rain and sleet (we were at altitude on the hill), Mr Sanders remained debonair, Mr Allen enjoyed the first lap of his post-half term farewell tour and our boys played some nice rugby.
In the E fixture, tackling around the legs appeared a slippery business and there was quite a lot of trying to rip the ball from the grasp of the much larger Harrow boys. When we did get them to ground, the tackling was excellent and there was some fine passing too. A terrific breakaway try from Sunny Lee gave us optimism; Alex Fairburn nearly slotted the conversion but it came back off the crossbar. Harrow then scored a brace but we responded when Magomed Palankoev thundered towards and across the line with a massive smile on his face all the way. The conversion was again missed so we remained several points in arrears and narrowly failed to score on four occasions in the second half. Losing Fairburn and Palankoev to minor injuries then proved decisive and we leaked a late try.
The F match looked a pretty open game and there appeared to be some fine handling. The team held reasonable shape and, in difficult conditions, executed some nifty handling. It was no surprise that Ben Edwards and Charlie Dowrick scored tries; they are incisive and committed players who, in many schools, would be playing for a far more exalted team.