Year Eight make the last eight in National School Sevens
On Monday the 14th Y Pant Year 8 Rugby Sevens Team made the long trip to Rosslyn Park in London for the National Schools’ Sevens. With a strong team, supported by a fantastic network of parents from Pontyclun and Llantrisant, the boys went out to re-write the history books by becoming the first Y Pant team to qualify for the finals day. History was against them, as for the previous 15 years that the school has been entering this competition we have never qualified for the prestigious second day, even with the numerous Regional and Welsh players the school has produced in the past.
With that in mind and no accommodation booked for the night the boys set out to smash that record. First up was private boarding school Langley High, who were quickly dispatched 32-16. With a fine attacking edge led by fly half, Iwan Jenkins, every player either scored or was heavily involved in slick passing that opened the Langley defence time and time again.
Like any competition of this nature word travels fast and we knew that our next opponents, Caerleon Comprehensive had smashed our other pool competitors by seven tries to one. However, the boys again made quick work of their Welsh rivals winning 42-0. With an aggressive siege like defence, led by Ryan Wilkins, the boys quickly took hold of the game and dominated every aspect, especially the set piece with Ryan’s front row partners, Luke Bradwell and Dafydd Price, causing horrendous damage to the Caerleon scrum, lineout and ruck.
Finally in the groups stage was a game against Shiplake College. With frontline boys looking tired we made some much needed changes, who again did not disappoint with a massive 54-7 win. An almost flawless display allowed Conan Flower to make numerous decisive runs while Dylan Evans and Chris Samuel, the only Year 7 on the team, to get on the score sheet.
The final part of the day consisted of two knockout games to see which of the 150 schools that entered would make it through to the last eight. First was Oakham School from Rutland – another top private English school that dominated their group. Oakham who had appeared to have a big physical team were put to the sword in the most ruthless fashion with an unforgiving score sheet of 52-7. Strong showings from Iwan Jenkins, Will Porch and Gethin Smith resulted in a flawless display from the Y Pant squad. Our final match of the day was to be against Bro Myrddin, a classic West Wales team who ran the ball at every opportunity. With the support of their fantastic families the Y Pant boys started well scoring two unconverted tries. However, the West Wales team were also a physical outfit and led going into the break, 12-10. In a fast flowing highly skilful game, which did bubble over in times, it was left to the superb Will Porch to score in the corner in the final play of the game and make history for Y Pant, they had made it to the final eight.
After a long night, and potentially the worst meal and customer service in the history of capitalism, Y Pant prepared themselves for their quarterfinal against Wimbledon College, a team that had won all the tournaments they had entered this season and were yet to lose a game of sevens . With the boys looking nervous and still aching from the previous day they had a nervy unsettled start that led to them being 19-0 down going into the break. But with a big crowd watching and the cameras on them they had nothing to lose and at this point began to throw caution to the wind as they started to pass the ball and attack with more confidence and skill. Breaks from Dafyydd Price and again a strong defensive display from Ryan Wilkins led to the boys clawing themselves back into the game but, the class of Wimbledon, who went on to win the tournament, proved too much as the English side eventually came out 33-21 winners.
In what I would call a very professional performance from the boys we have high hopes for this team as they go for the Welsh 7s title next week in Llanelli. As reigning Pontypridd district champions these ‘big fish in a small pond’ are, we believe, ready to push on to bigger and better things.
I would also like to publically thank the parents that made the great effort of going up to support their boys and us as staff – and also for helping those less prepared with accommodation. Without people like Kevin Jenkins and Sam Wilkins our jobs would be substantially harder and in places impossible.