Despite 8 cry-offs from an original squad of 16, we managed to get a squad of 10 lads to line up against all-comers in the Warwickshire County Colts (U19) 7s competition last Sunday. A huge thank you to Bryn Grantham, both for playing a big part on the pitch, but also bringing along a couple of very respectable school mates from Warwick School, who certainly added value to our team.
The squad that played were:
Cory Joy (capt)
Drawn in a strong pool with Silhillians A, Newbold and Leamington Bears, we managed to gain revenge over Newbold for the two recent 15-a-side defeats and beat them 27-0 in a magnificent display of attacking 7s, with Neil Sutherland scoring two tries. The next game was against arch-rivals Leamington Bears, who we managed to beat 36 - 5, with Bryn Grantham scoring two tries. Our final league game was to decide who would go on to win the pool and would gain the easier semi-final - the loser having to play the winners of the other pool, which turned out to be Coventry RFC academy - Henley College.
The game against Sils A was a thriller and stunning tries by Bryn Grantham and Josh O'Brien (can't remember the 3rd scorer - sorry!!) kept us in the game and we eventually lost 4 tries to 3, losing by 7 points. We came 2nd in the pool, despite having a much better points for/against than Sils and having scored more against each of the other teams in the pool.
Therefore we found ourselves in the semi-final of the Cup competition against Coventry Colts and despite being very tired as we only had a squad of 10 as opposed to a full squad of 15 for Coventry, our lads magnificently rose to the occasion and gave Coventry the fright of their lives. We eventually lost 26-19, again by one score after giving away a soft try towards the end of the game, but all the lads deserved a medal for the commitment and effort they put in. Against much larger opponents, the Ken lads punched way above their weight and tackled like I have seldom witnessed by a Colts side - each and every boy taking huge responsibility to make sure they did their share of the tackling and refused to let their team mates down. I have to say a big thank you to Jake Byrne and Sam Hain for "helping us out" on the day, who both more than did their bit to represent Kenilworth Colts.
By the way, Sils A won the final against Coventry and in doing so, completed the double with the Warks Colts Cup at 15s & 7s. They included 5 Solihull schoolboys in their 1st 7 on Sunday!!
I would like to thank Stuart Clitheroe and Tony Joy for looking after the team on the day, because I was there in an official capacity with Warwickshire Colts RFU. I was hugely proud in the bar afterwards to hear so many people (other coaches and parents from opposition teams and Warwickshire RFU) paying glowing complements about how well Kenilworth Colts and all of our squad had played. Well done to all the lads - you did yourselves and the club proud!!
Following the final whistle on Sunday, I can now officially state that the Colt's season for 13/14 is now finished. A big thanks to all the boys who have represented the Colts this year - despite some terrible injuries that prevented us from fielding our strongest teams on occasions (how many matches did we play with uncontested scrums!!!). The results certainly tailed off once we lost so many players, despite reaching the 3rd round of the National Colts Cup - drawing Hereford away without a front row, although we were lucky in finding a fantastic new player in Charlie Allerton, who has been having blood tests and is currently struggling with glandular fever - we wish him all the best and welcome him for next year. A huge thanks to Cory Joy, who picked up the Colt's captaincy after Dan Rink broke his leg and has led by example in inspiring the squad with his courageous "never say die" attitude to each game.
Thank you to all the parents who have supported their boys during the season and who do all the unseen work ferrying and washing the odd mountain of dirty kit.
I am hugely grateful to both Stuart Clitherow and Mark McKinnon who have shouldered the majority of the coaching this season, together with Tony Joy, who has assisted when available. A big thank you to Alistair Smith, who not only organised the tour to Guernsey, but also, through his company, sponsored the magnificent hoodies for all squad members. Thanks also go to the Pirates for providing the training tops and to the Mini & Junior Committee for funding our playing equipment that we have used during the season.
On a personal note, the final whistle on Sunday brought the curtain down on my coaching career, which started with the 1st XV way back when (before all the lads were born!!) and was resurrected with the U7s way back in the Minis 11 years ago. I hope I have done my bit in bringing as many lads through to senior Colts from the days when they first experienced a muddy pitch and a funny shaped ball!! I hope that many of the lads from this year's Colts, who are not going away to university, will pull on their boots next season for the 3rd/2nd/1st XV and get the huge enjoyment out of rugby that I have had over many years. I also wish next year's Colts, including the U16s coming up to join this year's Junior Colts, all the very best for next season - there looks to be a good management/coaching team in place to ensure the lads get the best opportunity to learn, enjoy themselves and be successful. After the summer break, training will start at the end of June, beginning of July.
A big thanks to Marcus Rink for all his hard work over the years and I would lastly like to thank my wife Debbie and family, for supporting me on this great journey. I may get a chance to watch a few 1st XV games next season and discover who plays for the 1st XV these days!!