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London Welsh U10’s Tour : Frankfurt

London Welsh U10’s Tour : Frankfurt

By Jonathan Shankland
27th May
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One Night in Turin, One Sunday in Frankfurt

With spirits high and the following wind of a Welsh Grand Slam, the ever enthusiastic U10s arrived on German soil for the Frankfurt festival last weekend. Based at the Leonardo Royale, the “Pennyhill Park” of German rugby, and with an intense day of sightseeing and strategy meetings over lunch and dinner for coaches and support staff on Friday, the squad was well set to begin their campaign on a wet Saturday morning.
With strength in depth, London Welsh were able to field two full U10 teams, all from the correct age group, which proved to be an important detail in the final reckoning. The Saturday games started early with matches against Frankfurt Blue and White, all of who played in Red. There were some great wins for both teams and a very strong positive try difference, as the teams skilfully battled opposition from Berlin, Prague and Luxemburg in the early outings.
Highlights from the first day included some incredible attacking play with plenty of passing rugby and defences that walked a fine line - and occasionally went over it. We only had one unfortunate hospital admission on the first day which some reckoned a surprise given the intensity on display. Other highlights included sausages, waffles and a variety of beverages that were on offer once you had navigated a complex voucher system which involved swapping money for paper in one tent and paper for drinks in the other...
Anyway, at the end of Day 1, both of the teams were strongly positioned and through to the quarter finals, an achievement that was the cause for much celebration at The Depot, Frankfurt’s finest eatery and the only place capable of combining romantic local dining with rugby touring. The evening was compered very effectively by The Judge who cited a number of playing crimes, all heinous. The rest of the evening was spent in strategy meetings again, all held for inspiration in the famed Sports Bar at the Leonardo.
Sunday dawned with expectation all round and with a few people getting up before they had gone to bed. Nerves were obvious amongst the teams and the LW2s opened with a sobering loss to The Hague before the LW1s restored pride with a crushing defeat of the Frankfurt Reds, now in the correct colour. Next stop for LW2s was a last gasp win against the same opposition with some quick thinking at the restart for the final try. A great curtain raiser for the LW1s tight semi-final which after a stirring comeback was the first match to go to a Golden Try, and a place in the Final!
As the sun warmed up and the pitches were cleared of the riot that ensued after Frankfurt triumphed in the U8s, the teams were ready for the final matches. The LW2s gamely fought for fifth place but in the end settled for a creditable sixth in the main competition. The scene was now set for the final…
Having lost yet another scissors/paper/stone (coaching point for next season), the Frankfurt Blues, again in Red started the game. It was relentless stuff from the outset, with both teams trading tries and LW almost sealing it with a kick and chase in normal time that crucially did not bounce their way. It has to be said that there were some questions on rule interpretation at this point which has been the subject of some analysis since but nevertheless our team battled on with strong support now from the eastern European teams channelling stirring scenes from Rocky.
With the teams tied at two a piece in the cup final, it was extra time again. Who would have believed that after 7 games and 50+ tries, it would come down to this? In preparation for the final push, the Frankfurt Reds controversially brought on a couple of new players who were neither Red, White or Blue. These were ultimately the difference between two evenly matched sides and within a couple of minutes of the restart, they had crossed our line. The coaches briefing doc had said, “…this is a youth rugby festival not a world cup…” but in the end after a loss to the Germans in extra time, it felt like a world cup after all…
You will note that I have not mentioned anyone by name in this report and with good reason. Everyone made this a tour to remember and contributed in some large or small way. We are all very grateful however to Mike Clubbe and Chuck Richardson for organising, as well as Marc Cullinane who conducted the orchestra as always, and partly remotely from Frankfurt General Hospital…
Until next year…
Giles Boardman
U10 London Welsh
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