Ironsides News


Ironsides U13s have had an amazing season in 2018-19, culminating in remarkable success at county level. In what we believe is an unprecedented achievement for any club, the boys managed to win all three Surrey Waterfall Cup Tournaments we entered.
Our A Team brought home the President’s Cup and were crowned overall champions of Surrey, while our B Team clinched the Treasurer’s Cup, and our C Team won the Secretary’s Cup.

Ironsides U13 As – Champions of Surrey
Like most coaches, we feel our age group is a little bit special. On the morning of Final’s Day, as the Ironsiders began to gather and the mists cleared from the playing fields of Old Reigatians RFC, there was a genuine feeling that we were on the verge of proving it. Several players had returned specially from Easter holidays to play – a mark of the importance they place on this club, this group of players and the challenge of cup competition.
First to play were the U13 Bs, facing Reigate As for the Treasurer’s Cup. The team went into the final feeling quietly confident, having stormed through the first two rounds of the tournament against Cobham and Guildford without conceding a try. The semi-final, the now infamous “Battle of Farnham”, was a much stiffer test: a real physical contest in driving rain and heavy mud from which we eventually emerged the victors. The team grew that day, and learned something about playing together and giving their all which we knew would stand them in good stead in the final.
They started strongly against Reigate: dominating the breakdown and creating momentum and space to score a couple of early tries. But they struggled to close down the opposition’s back line and Reigate responded twice against the run of play. The first half continued in this pattern and at half time the match was in the balance with 4 tries a piece. To their credit and the immense pride of the coaches and parents, the boys regrouped at half-time and themselves identified the tactical changes needed in defence and attack. The second half was a different story: we defended with ferocity and intelligence and didn’t give Reigate space to play. Our large, mobile pack drove the ball forward with direct running, momentum at the breakdown, and great support play: scoring tries themselves and creating opportunities for our talented back line to score out wide. The final score was a much deserved 9 – 5 victory and the boys claimed our first silverware of the day.

Ironsides U13 Bs celebrate winning the Surrey Treasurer’s Cup 2018-19.
Next to take the field were the U13 Cs, competing against Farnham Cs in the final of the Secretary’s Cup. The C team has been one of the huge success stories this season with a great group of players really progressing and developing their rugby over the year. This has been reflected in their amazing cup results with good wins over B teams from Esher, Barnes, Sutton and Epsom and Old Reigatians in the group stage of the tournament.
The question now was whether this progress and growing confidence would prove enough to beat Farnham Cs, who had beaten us in the first round of the group stage, early in the season. Our boys answered this question emphatically. In a fantastic display of rugby our forwards closed out the Farnham pack for much of the game and our backs used the resulting ball to show off their direct running and intelligent passing to great effect. After dominating the first half we consolidated our lead in the second and emerged 9 – 3 winners. Two finals down and two trophies secured.

Ironsides U13Cs awarded the Surrey Secretary’s Cup 2018-19
Finally, it was the turn of the U13 As, who faced Dorking As for the President’s Cup. Dorking A have been very competitive in recent years, and we had already lost and drawn to them in two previous encounters this season, so we knew this match would be a big test for our boys. But we also knew that on their day this Ironsides team could beat anyone and, inspired by the success of the Bs and Cs, this was the chance to prove it.
It was a confident start from both teams and though Ironsides began to get the upper hand as the first half progressed it was all square at 1 -1 at half time. After half time however, Dorking struggled to contain the pace and power of back line, who were getting lots of quick ball from the breakdown. 

Ironsides pack dominates

Ironsiders Bertie Moore, Seb Palmer-Worrell and Sergio Roccia exploit the overlap
To the delight of the parents and players supporting Ironsides ran in a further 3 tries to secure a 4 – 1 over our big rivals and complete an amazing triple cup triumph!

Ironsides U13 As presented with the President’s Cup

The Ironsides U13s Squad and the 2018-19 season
Winning all three Surrey Waterfall Cup Finals has been a brilliant finish to a fantastic 2018-19 season for the U13 squad. It’s a testament to the effort, commitment and enthusiasm all the boys have put into their rugby this season. Huge congratulations to all our players – not just those who were able to play on finals day but all those who turned up to play and train over the course of our season and have contributed to building a great team spirit throughout the squad.
We had 74 registered players at the end of the season, up slightly over the course of the year. This includes boys who have been with us since the minis, but we are also still attracting new joiners each season. These are often boys who have tried and enjoyed rugby at senior school, as well as one or two “transfers” from other clubs! It’s great to have a healthy and growing squad. We know that we will lose a small number of players next season as they move schools, but equally they know that they will always receive a warm welcome at Ironsides, even if they can’t play regularly on Sundays. And we hope to attract more new joiners next season.
The size of our squad means that we have managed to run three teams this year: an A, B and C team. This has normally meant two teams have fixtures on any weekend, where we have aimed to get a competitive standard of rugby for the boys. This arrangement means we have been able to run home training sessions too and has given us scope for flexibility in selection. An example of that is that over 40 boys have played matches with the B team over the course of the season. Our approach to team selection seeks to build cohesive teams but also ensure that boys are getting the chance to play rugby at a level which is competitive, challenging and fun – and gives them scope to develop their skills as players. We also took around half the squad on tour to Lyon this year – you can read all about what we got up to here.
We have been fortunate to have 12 coaches with the squad this year. As always with this age group our focus has been on helping the players to develop and reinforce their core skills, and also to develop specific forwards and backs skills. We have tried to encourage them to develop a playing style which emphasises speed both in attack and defence, playing with ball in hand and playing as a team. We use lots of in-game coaching so that the boys have experience of putting their skills into practice which will give them the confidence to play with imagination and make good decisions in matches.
The overall results for the season have been tremendous. The A team has played 16, Won 11, drew 2 and lost 3. The B team played 14, won 11, drew 1 and lost 2. The C team played 15, won 9 and lost 6.
Just as rewarding from a coaching perspective is to see just how much the boys have progressed across the squad, how they play for each other with pride, courage and resilience. They are a great bunch of lads and a joy to coach.
We owe our success to team effort, and so as well as the coaches I would like to thank our amazing manager Emma Moore, who puts in an enormous amount of time and effort to making everything run smoothly, as well as Kerry Birch who works extremely hard organising fixtures and liaising with teams to get everything ready for each match. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to our tour committee: Ali Abraham, Sarah Abbassian, Jenn Athill and Katie Samuel. 
Finally I know we would not have achieved everything we have this season without the support and commitment of an amazing group of parents so a huge thanks to them for turning out to support in all weathers. Here’s to an amazing 2019-20 season in the U14s!
John Freestone, U13 Head Coach


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