Old Yardleians RFC: Club News


Mon, 13 May 2013 02:17

I am getting lazy so you will have to put up with my press report of the game.


 Shirley Rugby Club, the Old Yardleians brought their highly successful season to a close on Sunday by winning the North Midlands Vase. This was the third high spot for the club as they have already won the Midlands Vase and the Midlands division four league title and with it promotion. For those advocates of making rugby a summer sport, the many spectators who came to watch their teams will point out politely, I am sure, that May is no different to January. Although the pitches at Dudley Kingswinford were in excellent condition, the cold wind that swept rain across the playing area for the entire match had an impact on the ball handling skills of all the players, leading to many errors and, subsequently, a stop start feel to the game.

 The Yards opponents were from the Ross on Wye club, a somewhat unknown quantity as they play their rugby in Gloucestershire League Two. Yards Coaching staff decided to give starts to a number of squad members who usually sit on the bench for the ‘Bigger’ matches, so the scene was set for a fascinating contest.

 From the kick off, the Ys took control of the scrum and line out but Ross spoilt successfully and looked dangerous on the counter attack, particularly when they used their elusive full back. However, as the game progressed, the Yards played themselves into positions from which they would, in normal games, score tries but on this occasion a slippery ball and cold hands meant that opportunities were missed. Eventually though pressure told and the Yards were awarded a straightforward penalty opportunity which stand in fly- half Stephen Goode put over the bar to put his side ahead. This was followed shortly by an opportunist try for centre Lawrence Edwards who reacted quickest to a loose ball to touch down for the opening try which Goode converted to bring the lead to 10 – 0 as half time arrived

 The second half was even less memorable than the first. The only try coming from the Ross flanker who squeezed in at the corner with the conversion dropping short. As tension mounted, tempers became a little frayed and the referee sent two Yards forwards to the bin to cool off. As the minutes ticked away the Ross team were mostly pinned back into their own 22 meter area. They bravely tried to run any scraps of possession they could pick up in an attempt to snatch victory but the Yards kept them out.

 The large following of supporters were very relieved to hear the final whistle and a victory for the Shirley side by 10-5. After receiving the trophy, captain Ben Honey suggested that it was difficult to perform with a high level of precision in every game and that to win when circumstances are not in your favour is the hallmark of a good side. He was also keen to acknowledge the contributions made by young forwards James Wilcock and Michael Brennan who both have bright futures in the game.

One of my agents told me about a web site that he found concerning non league football. A number of enthusiasts travel the country and write reviews about the club, its facilities or lack of them, and a little report on any action that was worth mentioning. Well, it seems that on a visit a while ago he wandered away from Shirley Town or Highgate United and discovered another sport. Have a quick read of this, Saturday 5 May 2012 President’s Day fixture (13:30) Old Yardleians under-16’s – 24 Five Ways OE’s under-16’s -13 No admission or programme. Attendance - 139 (h/c) (of which, at any one time, approximately 50% were watching the game, 30% were queueing in the bar and 20% were queuing at the barbecue). (Plus 3 canines, a heron, and a few thousand mosquito-like horse-flies congregated around one side of the pitch – which I hastily avoided!) I arrived from Shirley Town Reserves’ postponed match to find organised chaos in progress with various teams warming up and various mini-rugby participants happily racing round the seconds pitch. I believe a mini-rugby game was actually taking place, but it wasn’t entirely clear. The entrance is a narrow track off Tilehouse Lane 200 yards south of Whitlock’s End station, and I had to run the gauntlet of a stream of arriving cars. Parking on site for at least 100 vehicles. To the right is the club house, which isn’t as imposing as it looks when viewed from Highgate United’s ground which it backs onto – in fact I had, last season, watched 10 minutes of rugby here during half-time in a Midland Alliance match, as you can hop over the intervening ditch between the two clubs! The bar is quite small, but the usual honours and captains boards were on display, complete with a collection of around 250 rugby club ties from teams across the globe. Outside, I was served with a hot-dog from the barbecue (£1.50) but the onions were watery and turned the bread bun and the tissue paper into an amorphous mess. The sausage was quite tasty! The organised chaos eventually morphed into a presentation of trophies to the mini-players and juniors which we dutifully applauded. Then, 10 minutes late to the annoyance of the match referee, it was on with the U-16’s game, which turned out to be 30 minutes each way. Old Yardleians U-16s are, I gleaned, a bit of a joint venture with Birmingham and Solihull Bees U-16s, which led to a strong home side being fielded. However, coaches from both these clubs were prowling the touchlines shouting instructions at the home team, which was slightly confusing. The match started evenly with a FW.10 penalty miss from 30 yards just wide, followed by OY.26 forcing a try in the left hand corner and OY.10 brilliantly converting from the touchline, the ball bouncing off the cross-bar and over. This was a game of intelligent, thoughtful rugby, but it didn’t pay to think about it too long on the pitch because both sides were pacy and when following up, were often on the opposition before they knew it. There were some well-worked back moves, kicking from hand was largely accurate, and at least one of the OY backs possessed a wicked side-step which gained him many, many yards running. After 15m, FW.6 grounded a push-over try from 10 yards, Old Yardleians then made it 12-5 on 26m after pressure had won them a 5m scrum and a break by OY.20 saw him over in the left hand corner. A FW.10 penalty bounced in off a post to make it 12-8 at the break. The away side took the lead on 36m, with KE.14 going over in the corner following a quickly taken penalty, and on 43m, I thought Yardleians might have blown it when they gave up an easy penalty attempt from dead centre in favour of kicking the ball into the corner, but the kick was poorly directed and KE regained possession. However, Yardleians raised their game and as their opponents tired, they started to gain yardage with searing runs from the back, and bulldozed through to score two tries on 52m and 57m. KE.13 was ejected from play by the referee for some skulduggery or other (substitution was allowed), but overall it was a clean, fast-paced, absorbing match.

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