The tour to Manchester with the Under 14 & Under 15 squads took place between the 17th to the 20th April. A total of 46 in total made the trip, departure was early on the morning of the 17th with the coach departing at 03:40am. Departure from Holyhead was at 08:00 and a smooth crossing was encountered which was good as one of the coaches (who will remain nameless) doesn’t particularly like the bit of rough and tumble of the ferry. The journey to Manchester on departure from ferry took approximately 2.5 hours where a stop in Chester was made for the lads to take a walk and get some food into themselves.
The first match of the tour saw us go to Bowdon RUFC on a bright and sunny Good Friday. This was the first time Bruff RFC took on Bowdon RUFC in a touring match. The Under 14’ were first up on the day and they encountered a very strong Bowdon team who the previous week had put 70 points on their opposition. The first half proved to be an uphill battle with Bowdon going over the try line on a number of occasions to score some well executed tries. In the second half the Bruff U14′ came out with a different attitude and were fired up for battle. God only knows what Tommy & Ed said to the lads but it seemed to work. When the final whistle blew the U14 lads did themselves proud even though they took a lot of punishment form the Bowdon lads who had a little bit extra in the tank.
In the meantime John O’ Grady was prepping the Under 15 team in the dressing room, firing them up to take on the Bowdon opposition. The Bruff lads started the game very well and scored two very well worked tries in the opening half. The second half saw more of the same form the Bruff lads who accounted for themselves very well with two more tries which were converted by Martin Carew. Bowdon went over for a consolation try near the end of the game which was very competitive and enjoyable.
Refreshments were later had in the Bowdon clubhouse where presentations were made to the respective captains of Bowdon and Bruff. Though this was this first meeting between the two clubs the prospect of a Bowdon visit to Bruff in the near future is a possibility. A great time was had by everyone who enjoyed the warm Spring sunshine and there was even the possibility of sunburn with the more follically challenged people on tour. A big thank you to the coaches, officers and supporters of Bowdon RUFC for their hospitality, friendliness and warm welcome that they provided to everyone from the touring Bruff party.
Saturday 19th April saw the touring party move on to Sandbach RUFC another team that play in the Cheshire league. Bruff had played Sandbach two years previous so this was a visit to an old hunting ground. On arrival at Sandbach some of the Bruff players didn’t waste time on making their way to the hot food that was being sold. One was thinking if they could make their way to the breakdown so fast they would do well in the match.
After the pleasantries were complete with the Sandbach officials and coaches it was down to the business end of the day. The Under 14’ were playing on pitch two while the Under 15 team had the privilege of playing on the first team pitch. The Under 14 match turned out to be a cracker of a game, while trailing 21 – 5 they bravely turned it around to win 21 -29 in dramatic circumstances. In what was described on the Sandbach web page as “England V Ireland – A Classic Encounter”. http://www.sandbachrufc.co.uk/j/match-centre-6320/0-2294541
The Under 15 game was also a cracker of a game. For this game John O’ Grady drafted in the experience of Pat “Gino” Gennery to get the forwards working as a unit with co-ordination, intent and cohesiveness. Gino took the forward pack and got them warmed up and drilled in a way that could only compete with Ed Hennessy of the Under 14’. The Under 15 match started off with pace and intent by Sandbach who had Bruff on the back foot from the off. Sandbach were looking to put the ball out the line and get the backs to take it on with speed and get scores. The Bruff defence was excellent with tackles being made with players throwing themselves into tackles and taking the hit. The first half was drawing to a close when Mikey O’ Grady making a break and getting through the strong Sandbach defence. Martin Carew converted and it was half time. The second half continued with the same intensity and pace with breaks in the play for bloody noses and cold spray to be applied. The only item that marred what was a great game was an injury to a Bruff player who was taken to the local hospital to be examined and an injury also to a Sandbach play that picked up a muscle injury in his leg. The Sandbach web page also provided some inches of space to the game can be accessed through the following link.
After the match presentations were made to the respective captains of both teams and a man of the match was presented to the Under 14’s. Again the prospect of a visit to Bruff by Sandbach RUFC is in the offing in the near future. After the match the Under 14’ & Under 15’ enjoyed the atmosphere by mixing it up with the Sandbach lads and lassies. They enjoyed it so much that some of the Sandbachians wanted to come along on the coach.
Photos of matches will follow along with some video footage.