Sunday 29 September 2019 @ De La Salle Palmerston
Less than 24 hours after the Brave Blossoms gave the Irish rugby team a resounding “Konnichiwa to Japan lads!”, Seapoint’s Nifty 9s were up bright and early for the weekend’s other crunch fixture – a season opener away to DLSP (or Salmo as they’re known for reasons unknown).
Despite pre-alarm clock fears that the games may be postponed given torrential rain overnight (and, let’s be honest, isolated hopes by those in search of a rare lie-in or fearing the first mud-bath of the laundry indoor drying season), the squad breathed a collective sigh of relief as word came across the WhatsApp wire at 0800 that there were 30mins to roll out of bed, get kitted out, grab a slice of toast, find the gumshield and high-tail it to DLSP for the 0845 rendezvous.
Would the pitches put the “muck” in Glenamuck or would the players be happy as pigs in… er… well, muck?!
The trudge to the pitch seemed to hint that trench foot may be the order of the morning but all credit to the drainage system and groundskeepers that there was n’ere a poodle in sight given it had rained cats and dogs (ba-dum-tshhh!).
As soon as the squad assembled and warmed-up, the teams were swiftly divvied-up and in a masterclass of coaching efficiency, the backroom team set about giving the kids a quick refresher in the art of the lineout and counter-ruck to reinforce all that was meant to be imparted given a cancelled session the weekend before.
Rugby brains locked and loaded, the Nifty 9s fanned out across pitches 1, 2 and 3 like a wall of blue, green and black, ready to give their all (seeing as how they were already out of the scratcher anyway) and put the summer’s tag rugby, gruelling pre-season and three September training sessions to good use.
And give their all they did their all did give!
Despite the leaves autumnal hues, the lads must have done a spring clean of cobwebs from the skills closet as from the first whistle, Seapoint ran with the ball in two-hands (mostly) serving up plenty of tries from great attacking and support lines whilst in possession. When in defence, they set about tackling the opposition like some sort of pre-programmed tackle machine robot tackling cyborgs from a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future (anyone else hear there’s a new Terminator film coming soon?!).
What follows is an abridged version of events with thanks to our roving reporters-cum-coaches, noting every effort has been made to ensure we remembered all the names but in the heat of play errors and omissions may arise!
On Pitch One, coaches Andy, Gary and Jaime took charge of their charges and redoubled efforts to learn surnames with no fewer than three Matthew’s in their team (collective noun answers on a postcard please - a scrum of Matthews?).
Paddy had to leave after match one but what an impact he made, tackling, swerving and scoring with ease. A brief performance yet a super one!
An excellent debut from Finn, a big, strong runner and great team player. Great to have you in Seapoint Finn, we see great things ahead!
Eoghan had an excellent game showing great strength and proving hard to take down. Scored lots of tries including one or two for the opposition as he made a DLSP cameo but we won’t hold that against him.
After shaking off a stamp to the hand in match one, Matthew McL finished strongly, bridging and passing well to help join the dots and put a few tries away.
Stephen had perhaps his best games yet, running through hoards of DLSP boys and recycling the ball brilliantly from ruck to counter ruck. Great shift Stephen both for Seapoint and DLSP when their numbers were short!
Amaury’s silky skills were on show again. A try-scoring demon, a tackling maestro and with a side-step to beat the whole of Japan. Like Felix Jones going to South Africa, maybe that Leinster Rugby summer camp in DLSP gave him some valuable insights into the DLSP playbook.
What a debut from Senan! His ball skills honed in Cuala were on display in DLSP. Great running, passing and superb rucking. His future is bright in the green, black and blue!
Sam put in some performance despite maternal concerns over soggy and stinky boots (if Brianan offers you a cup of tea next time, politely refuse!). A real team player with bursts, passes and hits to beat the band. Some great scrumhalf action at the base of the ruck to boot (soggy or otherwise).
Mathew W was a work horse giving his all for the three games. Great passing – how he latched on to one particular pass without a blob of super glue for assistance was most impressive – to go with his strong running and support. A fine performance and great addition to the team.
Matthew B put his hat in the ring for man of the match thanks to his unrelenting hunting down of any DLSP ball carriers and tackling prowess. The analysis team lost track of the number of tackles in an unreal defensive performance, punctuated by a handful of tries to cap an all-round display.
Oscar had a cracking blitz both for Seapoint and DLSP as he unselfishly gave some of his time and skills to the home team in their hour of need. Another super team player, passing, tackling, breaking the gain line and scoring with ease and determination.
The next coaching ticket off the rank was Garret and Riain.
Upfront, Cian and Luke fronted-up to take on a strong running and leadership role, supported by super interlocking runs from Dylan and Lochlan, all four running in terrific tries.
Given the overnight rain and slippery conditions underfoot, it’s no surprise that all defences were a little leaky but the Nifty 9s did what they could to plug any holes with Sam first up on every occasion and doing his duty to overturn and win back the ball.
Charlie’s eagerness to press forward may have resulted in the occasional marginal offside but he was sure to compensate with some fierce rucking and counter rucking in another solid display.
James did enough stealing and snipping to make Conor Murray take note and was supported 100% by Jamie our flying winger in some great link plays to keep the forward momentum that enabled the team to get over the whitewash again and again.
The final team were shepherded by the Three Wise men - Simon, Mark and Ray - and like the others, the team really improved as the matches went on with some great passages of play with multiple passes and phases, excellent support lines and tackling skills improved as DLSP tried to breach the defensive wall. All of the team got their hands on the ball and all performed excellently in their first scrums and line outs.
Luke grew in confidence as the minutes went by and had some great runs and offloads after the tackle as well as being heavily involved in the set pieces.
Tom scrummaged well and made a couple of his barnstorming runs and passes - a real team player in keeping the momentum going in challenging conditions.
Sean showed some excellent turns of pace and determination to score some great tries and got some good tackles in while proving effective in the line-outs.
Matthew G made some excellent evasive breaks and leading to some great individual and team tries while James got plenty of the ball in hand and mixed up his runs and distribution well, getting in a couple of good tackles along the way. The two formed a fine partnership at ruck time, holding back a tide of DLSP players on more than one occasion.
Dexter was heavily involved in all aspects of the games, with some good running tackling and passing including scoring a try for DLSP (again, we’ll let you away with that one… THIS time!).
Ross was everywhere, scoring tries, making big tackles and supporting his teammates.
In the second and third games the boys took off the gloves and champagne rugby was the order with blind side breaks with not one but two runners on the shoulders of ball carriers...Sean, Dexter & Ross all running, supporting, off-loading and converting!
Despite arriving after the first games begun, Luca and Leo got straight down to business, knowing the patterns and seamlesslessly slotting in to “The Process”.
Leo was the perfect finisher who made some barnstorming runs, tackles and a try all in game 3. He had a take on the blind side and turned on the gas to run in a super score which led one of his teammates to say “Dad - did you see Leo’s show and go? Awesome!!!”.
All in all, a great day and great play by all – plenty to work on but even more to be encouraged by!
Looks like Pitchero is already dancing on Teamer’s final resting place so thanks to all the parents who persevered with the occasionally Kafkaesque registration process to ensure their boys were paid-up and more importantly, insured-up, so they could take to the pitch. Stragglers be warned!
Appreciation also to the Seapoint Snaparazzi for all the great action photos (selection available via the Pitchero App with some great illustrations of lineouts, tackling, rucking and fruit pastille distribution) and for all the parents getting their kids up and out on what certainly will not be the worst morning they face this season…!
Looking forward to welcoming the rest of the squad back and getting out on the pitch again this Sunday and don’t forget to record and show the boys the Ireland V Russia game #COYBIG
Seapoint Nifty 9s – We laugh in the face of rain, mud and early starts (ultimately)