After an early morning meet, the Wycombe Abbey Rugby teams boarded a coach bound to Shanghai for what was a highly anticipated rugby fixture against Shanghai American School Puxi, the first external rugby event in over 18 months. The school fielded three teams, Senior Boys’, Senior Girls’ and an U15 Boys’ squad, who have all been consistently training every week despite the lack of fixtures. The excitement of the pupils on the journey to Shanghai was tangible, and as we arrived at SAS, the teams took great pride in donning their school jerseys and taking to the field.
Each team played 2 10s fixtures against their opposition, consisting of 12-minute halves. The Senior Boys were the first to kick off.
In the Senior Boys’ matches, they were faced with a steep learning curve after conceding a few early tries in the first half. Nevertheless, the pupils kept their heads held high, embodying the school ethos of strong sportsmanship, and in the second half mounted a fierce comeback having learnt and acted upon the areas of weakness highlighted from the earlier half. The boys then continued to develop their game moving into the second match, pulling through fatigue, playing to their absolute best and giving their all in what were two incredibly exciting and encouraging games of rugby, and even managed to come away with a number of spectacular breakaways tries from N. Ni (Y13 Elgar), to the cheering of the spectating U15s.
Having watched the Senior Boys performance, the U15s sought to develop their own games and implement all that they had been practicing in training into their play. The first fixture was an incredibly close and well fought match, with the boys working incredibly hard in defense to secure the breakdowns, as well as managing to consistently prove to be a threat by successfully counter rucking. In attack the boys were able to make several successful offensives through the breaks made by C. Philpott (Y10 Hawking), only narrowly missing out on the win.
In the second fixture, however, the boys took back to the pitch with a determination to come away with a victory and from the kickoff dominated the opposition in all aspects of the game. As the final whistle blew, with the Senior Boys’ and Girls’ watching, the U15 were able to celebrate a well-deserved victory against what was an extremely challenging opposition. A massive congratulations goes to the whole team. In this match T. Wang (Y9 Hawking) was highlighted for a superb 70m sprint to score a try, and T. Wang (Y10 Elgar) for putting in a tremendous amount of effort in covering the breakdowns and controlling the defensive line. As well as these two pupils, X. Clarke (Y8 Blake) and T. Martin (Y8 Elgar) were commended for stepping up to the challenge of playing for an older team.
In the girls’ fixtures, the team quickly realized that they too were playing against a formidable opposition, however, were quickly able to adapt to this and begin to take control of areas of the game. The girls’ team was made up of pupils ranging from Y9-Y13, with some girls having played for several years and others less experienced. Every girl put their body on the line, banding together to keep their heads high in two difficult and physical matches of rugby.
The girls quickly settled into the game and were able to match the opposition physically, working incredibly hard as a team and with some brilliant individual performances from D. Wang (Y13 Dove) and R. Liu (Y10 Fonteyn). The girls did themselves and the school credit, coming away from the matches with a greater understanding of the game that will serve them well as a positive experience moving forward into their next fixtures.
In both Senior teams, a massive congratulations goes to the Y13 players for their input and role in helping mentor the younger players and encourage them to play their best, and who we hope continue to play rugby when they move onto University.
At the end of the day the pupils got back onto the bus with their heads held high, incredibly proud of their performances and happy to be back out on the rugby field. They served to be a testament to the school’s PE Department. Having picked up a quick after match burger, the students returned to WAS Changzhou, and are straight back into training even more eagerly than before.