Rugby Report | Autumn Term 2020

20 November 2020

 

Like almost everything outside of school, the Autumn Term of sport at Caldicott has been slightly different and non-traditional, most notably through the reduced amount of rugby and inter-school fixtures. The eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that this has been replaced initially with cricket & athletics and more recently football and a plethora of internal competitions respectively. Hopefully your sons have also told you that every Wednesday afternoon for the 3rd – 6th Form and Friday afternoon for the 1st and 2nd Form since football took over they have still been having their appetite for rugby satiated a little. For those of you who struggle to get anything out of your son about his school day, Wednesday/Friday afternoons have been packed with a rugby specific fitness session followed by up to an hour of ability based skill development (dependent on the year group) and rounded off with an internal mixed ability 'Ready 4 Rugby' match for which the internal leagues started after half term. The latter is an RFU sanctioned Covid-19 safe version of touch rugby focussed on developing all the core skills of rugby union with the obvious exception of contact skills.

I can imagine that many of you are missing the bi-weekly fix of Caldicott tea and carrot cake after standing on a wet, miserable, freezing cold touchline with your umbrella up and wellies on spectating your sons' inter-school rugby matches. We miss having you here too. Nevertheless, we have created some superb internal competitions across all year groups and just like before you can track the progress of your son's team via the staff portal; you are looking out for team names such as ‘Speedy Gonzales’, ‘Try Thieves’, ‘Fluffy Fireballs’ and alike, with team names all chosen by your sons alongside choosing his teammates as well. I implore you to also press him a little on a Wednesday/Friday evening on how he did in his fixture, where his team are in the league and what his team scored bonus points for this week. 

I can assure you the competitive nature of the games are as robust as any inter-school fixture, and more akin to the school house matches which, as many of you will know, often produces the fiercest competition. With only one session a week of rugby for each year group at the moment, I feel we have an excellent balance. All the boys across the whole school are engaged, involved and enjoying their rugby, it’s a joy to see. I even think I caught Mr Hutchings smiling on Wednesday afternoon.

Looking ahead, there is a growing belief that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will sanction a contact version of rugby available to the age grade level of competition to which all your sons belong from U9’s up. What that looks like only the RFU currently know for sure, but my understanding is that there will be a tackle at U9’s and above with the addition of a limited number ruck with no mauls or scrums from U10 up. This is not guaranteed, but there is a lot of conversation about it and as I said before, my belief is that they will release a game of this nature. 

Either way, we are planning to have a rugby-dominant term next term, with contact at the applicable age groups, if allowed and if not more skill development. In effect we will have switched our rugby and football terms for the first time in history, as far as I am aware. The benefits of this are that your sons will get to play as full a version of the game of both football and rugby that is available to them in these unprecedented times. We could have stuck with tradition and ground out a full term of internal touch rugby this term and moved to football next term like some of our counterparts have chosen to do. It would have been logistically easier this way, but in my opinion not best for your sons rugby development. In response to the restrictions in place, we have given your sons the best chance of ‘normal’ all-round sporting development as possible. Business as usual, with a few slight tweaks I believe is the Headmasters current mantra.

Inter-school fixtures and 7’s festivals may be a stretch too far, but who knows. In this vain we have taken the approach of why not be optimistic. There is a full rugby fixture list in place against top rival schools for next term, just as there was for football in the second half of the term we are currently in. The Caldicott 7’s Festival invites have gone out and we have a top rated field once again willing to attend should the restrictions allow. We have, of course, entered all the usual rugby 7’s competitions from U11 to U13 including Rosslyn Park for the U13A team. Covid-19 may well rear its ugly head and force these fixtures and events to be cancelled as it has done throughout the last year, but rest assured everything is in place for these opportunities and experiences to happen for your sons should they be allowed. If they are not, I can assure you a robust rugby programme in accordance with what is allowed will be in place come your sons return from Christmas Holidays on 7 January 2021.

All of the coaching staff are dedicated to making sure your boys are developing on the rugby field as well as any other year. It is understandably unnerving for some parents that you do not get to see it through spectating like you used to, but we all appreciate the trust you put in us and the support you show year on year of the rugby programme that is put in place. In addition to this, I am always on hand to answer any questions or queries you may have about the rugby programme and how your son is benefitting from it. We hope to see you on the sidelines in your wellies or in the Centenary Hall with some tea and cake soon!

Yours in rugby

Gareth Williams – Head of Rugby

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