U14 XV

2012 - 2013

The U14 rugby team can look back with great satisfaction and pride on their achievements on the rugby pitch this year. Any season which contains victories over Campbell College, BRA, Royal School Armagh, CAI and Regent House is one to be savoured and celebrated.

The year got off however, to a somewhat inauspicious start with a narrow defeat at home to Dalriada. The boys can point to a very dubious decision by the touch judge which effectively decided a closely fought contest. This was followed by a comprehensive defeat against an impressive Down High School side. Victories followed against Royal School Dungannon and Cambridge House but there was another disappointing loss to Dromore High School – a game dominated by Grosvenor in terms of territory and possession.

The turning point in the season however, was a 50 point drubbing by an outstanding Friends High School team. The boys will remember, perhaps not particularly fondly, the gruelling hill session which followed. Everest was eventually conquered; we had become a team and things would never be the same again.

The squad was set a challenge after the Halloween break which was to win their next five matches. Carrick, Ballyclare, Bangor and Larne were dispatched with ruthless efficiency. There then followed a day that will live long in the memory. On a sunny Saturday morning in early November Grosvenor Grammar U14s put Ulster’s answer to the All Blacks to the sword. Campbell College was not only defeated - they were outfought, outrucked, outscrummaged and outrun by Grosvenor’s young stags! The team had begun to play with self-belief and a huge desire to win. Further victories followed against Banbridge Academy, Wellington and Armagh. The final match before Christmas was, I believe, our best performance of the year, when we completely dismantled a very capable Regent House side in Newtownards. This was a game where the forwards and backs played in perfect unison. The outstanding man on this day, and on many other days, was the ‘Mighty Thomas Quinn’ who did a very passable impression of a young Brian O’Driscoll as he repeatedly sliced and diced his way through the befuddled Regent backline. He was ably assisted by Conor Kernohan, whose towering box kicks and acceleration of the back of rucks reduced the opposition to tantrums and tears.

The post Christmas period brought with it new challenges as five boys were selected to represent the Medallion team. It afforded the opportunity however, for others to step up and fill their shoes. No-one did this more impressively than Ethan Kee moving from second row to number 8. Ethan is an intelligent rugby player. Taylor Pollock was also exceptional, scoring tries, kicking conversions and generally battering anyone with the ball. If you were stuck in the trenches, facing impossible odds, Taylor Pollock is the man that you would want fighting beside you. Belfast High School, Rainey Endowed and BRA were all comprehensively outplayed, extending the team’s unbeaten run to 11 matches. Defeat finally came in February when a much depleted Grosvenor side lost narrowly to CAI.

It may seem unfair to pick out a number of individuals as our success was based primarily on the boys bonding together as a team and working hard for each other. One player however, stands out literally head and shoulders above all others. Ben Davidson was chosen as our captain and led the team superbly all year, carrying the ball effectively and scoring crucial tries in tight games. I always enjoyed the pre-game formalities when Ben shook hands with the opposing captain, towering over him in a menacing fashion à la Martin Johnson. Stephen Hedley was our most improved player of the year having come from ‘Fugby’ last year. Stephen is a courageous and fiery individual who never backs down and refuses to be intimidated. My enduring memory of him will be his attempt to take on the entire Ballymena pack single-handed. Foolhardy but admirable nonetheless! I am also indebted to the coaching team of Mr. Lendrum, Mr. McCallan and Mr Bowden without whom the seasons’ success would have proven elusive. Indeed, the boys have a particular fondness for Mr. Bowden who instructed many of the boys in the dark arts of forward play (most of which are illegal!)

The season ended on a high with our now annual trip to participate in the prestigious O’Kane tournament in Ballymena. Wallace H.S. laughed as we took to the pitch, remarking that “it’s only Grosvenor!” There was no laughing when they trudged from the pitch 20 minutes later having been beaten by 4 tries to 1. Victories followed against Rainey and Belfast High School before a grudge semi-final against CAI. That Grosvenor emerged the victors against a physically much bigger team is testament to their courage and will to win. Although the boys lost to an incredible Ballymena Academy side in the final, it did not put a negative gloss on the day. The enduring memory in the dying seconds of that final was Ballymena’s desperate defence as they repelled wave after wave of committed Grosvenor attacks. This should encourage the boys for next year as they look to step up to the highest tier of Ulster rugby. Under the expert tutelage of Mr A Gibson I have every confidence that they will do so.

By Mr A Cowan