Result is ‘a big disappointment’, says Roberts

This is an interview that I did with BGS number five, Haydn Roberts, after the Inter Schools League Cup Final.

After Boston Grammar School were defeated by rivals Middlecott in the League Cup final, I spoke to BGS star Haydn Roberts to get his reaction.

How did you feel about the result?
It was a disappointment, but we’re all just happy about getting to the final really.

And how do you feel about the team performance?
I thought we played very well, obviously without our main player (Phillips) who has done well for us all season. But we showed good character and everyone put in 100% and I was really pleased. And all of the boys are as well.

And your personal performance?
Yeah, I played alright, not as well as I have previously but I did ok, thought I did my job alright.

How did you feel when Olly Phillips was not going to be playing in such a big game?
It was disappointing, obviously, because he has played so well for us and he is the captain, but it also gave us the chance to show what we can do without him.

What did you think of the tries that Grammar scored? Dave Abell’s?
I though it was well taken, he did well to pick it up and turn on the gas, and beat his man with a good finish.

And Alex Pycock’s?
I thought that Pycock’s was a great individual effort, great running, using his pace well like he always does. But I think that Ollie Whitehead did very well, getting the ball behind our try line and passing to Pycock whilst being under pressure so he did well.

And the last try, by Alex Poole?
Yeah, it was a good finish, a good move with a couple of good passes before.

Were you disappointed not to win?
I don’t think we were the better team, I thought we could have done a few things differently, would have made it a more interesting game. But we did well to keep with them for the best part of the game, for 75% of the game we were keeping up with them but yeah, everyone was disappointed of course, but we’ve just got to get our heads up again.

When (Dave) Abell scored the first try early on what were the feelings within the team?
We were pleased; we know it is important to get a good start. Every match we play in we’ve got to take our chances and we were pleased that we did it so early on. But I think we could have done a few things differently after he scored.

Some of the players before the game were a bit disheartened, saying that they had no chance of winning. How did affect the team?
I think that when we got the squad there was some bad news, you know, we were missing some good players, but when we thought about it we realised that there was still a good chance of us winning the game. There were 15 players on that pitch and four subs, you know, we’re a team. We’ll win together and we’ll lose together.

Seeing as though it is a huge rivalry between the two teams, did that add a little edge to the game?
It livened up the occasion, we’ve all got a lot of respect for their players but when it comes to the game you’ve got to do whatever you can do win. It was a big game, a good atmosphere, a lot of people came to watch so it was a good game to play in.

Strong Middlecott Side Defeat Grammar

This is a report from a rugby match between two school teams, from April 2009.

After coming top of their pool in the previous round, Boston Grammar School Under16s went to the Princess Royal Sports Area with high hopes. However, after a well fought match, Kirton Middlecott came out top and were crowned champions of the Inter Schools League Cup. The build-up to the game was full of tension and nerves. After BGS beat MSK in the 2007 final, MSK beat BGS in a friendly in 2008 and the teams drew in the Rugby 10s tournament earlier this season, the 2009 Inter School League Cup Final was to be the decider. For a lot of these players, it was to be their last match together, and possibly the last time they ever play a rugby match, so both teams were determined to win. Grammar had a setback before the game had even started, with captain and fly-half Oliver Phillips out due to injury. The NLD star became manager for the game, with his first point of call choosing a new captain. Number 8 Sam Clifton was his choice. 

The atmosphere in the BGS dressing room was electric, with Clifton instilling enthusiasm into his troops at every possible moment. His team talk brought out his leadership skills, and got the lads pumped up for a huge game. BGS started the game a little better than their opponents, keeping Middlecott at bay and trying to attack at every moment and within nine minutes, the deadlock was broken. Winger Dave Abell broke away down the left, skipping past Middlecott winger Tom Martin in the process, and putting down for the first try of the match. Phillips is the usual conversion taker, but with him out, BGS had to find others to take the conversions. Luke Chester stepped up to convert, but he put the kick slightly wide. The try seemed to give the team even more enthusiasm and belief, and they began to play like a real unit. However, Middlecott slowly began to get back into the game and after eighteen minutes, winger Aaron Appelby levelled the scoring with a try. Fly-half Alex Snaith stepped up to convert, but missed, leaving the scores level after twenty minutes of play.

   It didn’t take long for BGS to take the lead again though. Outside-centre Alex Pycock picked the ball up in his own half and, using his fantastic speed, he ran the length of the field and put down under the posts. Again, Chester stepped up for the conversion, but he failed to score once more. For about fifteen minutes in the first half, BGS held off MSK a few metres from their try line. BGS were heavily under the cosh. Peter Brennan was brought on to give the team some new flair, and one the first things he did when he came on was to illegally challenge MSK’s outside-centre Luke Wilson. For those of you that watch wrestling, it was more like a “clothesline” than a rugby challenge. Grammar were determined to go into half-time as the leaders. They almost did, as well, but Hooker Nathan Hill had other ideas. He pushed past the Boston defence, finally breaking through and going over for the fourth try of the game. Snaith attempted to convert and send Middlecott into half-time in front. He succeeded, leaving the score at half-time 12-10 to Middlecott. 
   After the two teams grouped into team circles and both had some inspirational words from coaches and their respective captain, it was time to begin the second half. Danny Jackson was brought on to give the BGS team some fresh legs, and Jack Toyer was brought on to give some extra strength to the side. Within five minutes of the second-half, though, Wilson powered through the BGS team to score another try for MSK. Snaith stepped up again to have a go at another conversion, and he made no mistake, making the score gap between the teams nine. Grammar really needed to do something positive if they were going to get back into this game. Instead, they got even worse, conceding another try, this time to scrum-half Harry Gray. Snaith converted again, and it looked as though BGS were going to be getting runner-up trophies. Craig Whiley was brought on to give some of the more tired players a rest. During the second-half, both BGS’s, and MSK’s captains got called forward by the referee twice. Clifton and Gray got called forward first for bad tackling by both teams and the referee wanted it to stop. Then they got called forward again for bad language, which the referee was not tolerating. With fifthteen minutes left, it looked as though Grammar were down and out. But a long attacking move with lots of passes and, frustratingly, tackles, Grammar scored their third try of the match. Fly-half Alex Poole was the scorer, going over even with extreme pressure from the MSK defence. Fullback Alex Liu came to try and score this conversion, but he put the ball agonisingly wide. This left the score at 26-15 to MSK, so Boston still had quite a bit to do if they were to get back into the game. However, with only ten minutes left, it would have to be something pretty special.

 Grammar were condemned to their fate however when Wilson scored their fifth and his second try of the match, meaning that the game was over. Snaith missed his conversion, leaving the score at 31-15 with five minutes left.
   Tempers began to flair towards the end of the match, with Clifton challenging MSK’s Matthew Fitzer at head height. Grammar’s number 8 was given a yellow card and so missed the rest of the game, due to the time left. It was an illegal challenge and looked pretty painful, but Fitzer seemed to shake it off and carry on. Middlecott’s Hill and BGS’s Pycock had a little conflict of opinions, with Hill seemingly getting a little aggressive. But apart from a few strong challenges it was a quite a clean game on the whole.
   The game finished with the score at 31-15. The BGS lads gave all that they had but at the end of the day Middlecott were generally the better team. The players were still upbeat after the match despite the loss, with all of them having a laugh with the Middlecott players as they waited to collect their 2nd place trophies. The atmosphere after the match was one of disappointment at not winning, but also they were very proud with the performance that they all put in. 
   When Phillips was asked about the result, he said that “it was the performance that was important” and that was “very good”. When asked about the team performance, flanker Haydn Roberts said that they “played very well, showing good character and everyone put in 100%”. 

The Boston Grammar School team (above) pose for squad photo.