Merchants’ Academy had their first ever Senior 1st XV fixture on Wednesday 11th February 2015. After two terms of rugby co-curricular, Mr Applin and Mr Booth whittled the number down from 90 to 20 boys from Y10-Y13 who would complete a six week programme with England Rugby Union community coach Kei Burgh. The students were picked, not only because of their rugby skills, but their continued commitment and dedication to rugby.
The weeks of training focussed on the professional environment they would encounter if they decided to pursue rugby as a career, covering aspects like: fitness, positional development, teamwork, self-discipline, communication and respect.
The inaugural match was eagerly anticipated, as Millfield 1st XV had just recently won the RFU U18 National Trophy and is a traditional rugby powerhouse in England school rugby.
The game got underway with Merchants’ receiving the kick off and a slight uphill slope in the first half. After 5 minutes things were looking good – we had possession and were working well as a team. Then Millfield received possession and their regular training started to show with well drilled passing and rucking, eventually taking a 20 point lead through 4 tries.
At this point, the Merchants’ players showed real character and some of the BRISTOL values such as Boldness and Tenacity. Firstly, with a great line break from Jordan Buet, zig zagging his way for 60 metres setting the tone, before tries from Dom Bradley, Connor Bodnarazek and Bradley Laver helped Merchants come from behind and take the lead 20-21. Connor converted all three difficult kicks.
Although these would be the last points scored by Merchants’ Academy they were extremely well lead by Kyle Cording, who tackled anything that moved. So much so that the opposition coach and players were all commenting on his work rate and big hits!
Towards the end of the game the players showed real resolve under some tough conditions, as Millfield started to field a few more of their 6th Form players (the coach hinted at playing some of the 2nd XV) looking to cement a long awaited win, as Merchants’ tackles kept flying in.
As a team the boys did the Academy proud and Millfield have expressed an interest in making this an annual event. Well done to all that made this possible.