Southport Under 8 Sport Tours Experience By John Thompson
Great Weekend had by all.
My Bit first (by Dave Hignett)
A massive thank you to all my coaches (Paul O, Paul G and Woody, ably helped by Alex and Mike Smith. Also my team manager Jo Pagan, assisted by John Thompson, Rob Paxton and Dave & Jane Pilkington. A great Tournament hosted by SRFC with 24 Players giving their all. Most importantly Rugby is about Respect, Discipline, Honesty and Integrity and ALL of my age group (parents and children alike) showed this, regardless of the situations we faced - Well Done!!!
I would also like to say goodbye to a few of my “Devils” namely: Jessica Pagan (Our Princess), Erin Day (Our Future Olympic Gymnast) Ella Lang (Bringing meaning to the word “Devil”) and Archie Morris (Back to Scotland). You will all be sorely missed.
Back to the Report
Sunshine and bacon barms
And what a pleasure it is to start a match report with the word "sunshine", albeit with a touch of artistic license. Only the players and the bravest of coaches had their shorts on but t-shirts were order of the day, all round, as we enjoyed some tournament rugby away from the cold North Sea breeze. Reportedly a thousand people per day came to Waterloo Road to enjoy the rugby and a quite remarkable welcome. All credit to Alan Havard, Ann Shorrock, Andrew Carney, Mike Dale and all of the volunteers that provided a seamless tournament. All credit for the catering, the bar staff and of course the (majority of) the reffing, over the course of the two days. The correlation between running out of ruck and maul & bacon barms with the number of U8 Dads on the sideline was of course pure coincidence. Further, any spotting of our coaching team anywhere near the bar area was of course a case of mistaken identity. That's what the managers were for.... with one exception.
Rarely spotted far from the fizz and fine wine marquee, Woody had a wonderful sign off to her association with the Devils. Woody has brought humour and great character to most of our Sunday mornings for the past few years. As she signs off from coaching duties at Southport RFC there were a few bubbles, a few tears and many great memories, of which here are a few;
1. Woody “Wolverine”. The alter ego of the blonde bombshell came out in force in the 2012 inaugural parents and coaches contesting of the Higgy Smith Cup. Undeterred by the out of hand game of touch Woody kept putting her face into the rucks and mauls, getting totally stuck in with the rest of the ruffians.
2. Woody “the mother”. When Dave would still have them out training in the wet and wild, Woody on occasion became the team mother and brought the children in rather than keep them outside shivering in their shorts.
3. Woody “Party animal”. The girl enjoys a natter and a glass of wine. A friend to a lot of folk at the rugby club, as she swaps the north west for the Borders, a lot of people will miss you Woody.
Plenty of running rugby
With twenty four Devils getting a run out this weekend, few could accuse Southport U8s of not being all inclusive. It is great to host a tournament such as Sports Tours and fantastic, of course, to put out a good showing. And fielding three sides, including both boys and girls, is exactly just that.
Olympians L7, 10
Devils L3, 5
Waterloo L5, 7
LSH L7, 9
Collegiate B W6, 5
Collegiate A L4, 7
Falcons L7, 8
Eagles W5, 4
Lewis Grove (tries: 1) entertained the full family on Sunday afternoon, using deceptive pace to run in a try against Collegiate B.
Jack Hendry (tries: 6, hat trick: LSH) is our runaway train, a strong powerful player who is itching to play contact rugby and channel that strength.
Jack Rogan has enjoyed his debut season, never losing a lovely smile on his face whilst playing or training and developing nicely as a player.
Taylor McNulty (tries: 2) is speedy and swift but possesses the strength of a future front five forward.
Ben Selby is a firm favourite within the squad. A popular player who will probably develop into a back.
Sonny Rix (tries: 6) is a future back row forward, utilising strength and speed to regularly break the game line and score tries.
Thomas Pilkington (tries: 1) has been an ever present all year. A strong runner and future second row forward.
James Pilkington (tries: 3, hat trick: Falcons) offers great support to his team mates and is always concentrating on the field to enable him to be in the right place at the right time.
Rico Crimp (tries: 6) has proven to be a brilliant newcomer late in the season and a welcome addition to the Devils.
Ollie Bedford (tries: 19, hat tricks: Olympians, LSH, Collegiate A, Eagles) has pace, pace, pace. An amazing haul of tries came from listening to instruction and utilising his turn of pace, making him a deserved Shark's coach player of the tournament.
Waterloo L7, 10
Eagles L4, 6
Sharks W5, 3
Olympians L4, 9
Collegiate A L1, 9
LSH L6, 8
Collegiate B W7, 5
Falcons L5, 6
Elliot Highdale (tries: 1) is a smiling, crafty schemer who scored against the Olympians and will end up a future number 8.
Ella Lang (tries: 13, hat trick: Waterloo) is definitely a Devil. The Devils coach's player of the tournament never stopped running forward, typically with a smile on her face.
Archie Morris (tries: 8) is unquestionably the dirtiest player in the team and few will have missed the irony that he walked home with the fair play award. A name to remember for the future, we all wish you well in bonnie Scotland and have fond memories of our very own Mighty Mouse.
Kieran Rimmer (tries: 3) is quick and effective at tag and will likely discover that aggression when we start contact in the Autumn.
Callum Bailey (tries: 2) is a top tackler for the team. A typical Bailey!!
Peter Thompson (tries: 3, hat trick: LSH) has excellent speed and covers back well. He has come on well this year and is a likely back row or full back in the making.
Erin Day (tries: 7, hat trick: Collegiate B) is super speedy with wonderful balance. Good luck realising your ambition to be Britain's next top gymnast.
Jess Pagan (tries: 2) looks like a princess, runs elegantly and scores like a machine.
Sharks W10, 7
LSH W9, 6
Falcons L7, 9
Devils W9, 4
Collegiate B D6, 6
Eagles W7, 6
Collegiate A L4, 6
Waterloo L7, 10
Waterloo (plate final) L10, 11
Charlie Hignett (tries: 7) is a little dynamo; a gobby, aggressive playmaker and a sure fire, no nonsense scrumhalf.
Lewis Fusco (tries: 9) is as nutty as a fruitcake. An exocet looney who is a head case hooker in the making.
Joseph Paxton (tries: 28, hat tricks: Sharks, Devils, Collegiate B, Eagles, Waterloo and Waterloo again in the final) is a speed merchant that is accurate with his finishing, earning him an amazing six hat tricks and the Olympians coach's player of the tournament.
Dillon Smith (tries: 11) is a great ball player with excellent football skills, an eye for space and an exemplary work ethic in defence.
Ethan Owen (tries: 10) is a classic fullback, running excellent lines to find space in attack and tracking back nicely.
George Harvey (tries: 4) epitomises our great rugby club. He is passionate about his rugby, skilful on the field, typically successful and everything is done with a smile on his chops.
We hosted the tournament as one club, we don't stream the players in the teams and train and play as one team; the Devils. The final accounts read as P25, W8, D1, L16 with 152 tries for and 177 against. There were standout performances during the tournament, of course. The players of the tournament, as voted for by the team coaches, are noted and the overall player of the tournament is to be revealed by Coach Dave at the awards ceremony on Sunday. The most important thing is that every single child in the Devils set up gave their all (most of the time). At the final whistle the Olympians achieved a creditable if not questionable fourth place. Arguably they were the second best team in the whole thing, behind Waterloo. The reality however saw Collegiate win out, beating Northern in a well contested final.
There were nine teams in the tournament, each with eight or so boys and girls. That's some seventy plus children, all outside enjoying competitive sport and each others company without a game of Minecraft in sight. A massive thank you to all of the players, coaches and parents that travelled to join us in Southport and help to make such a lovely weekend.