I’m so very tempted to get 2 Events out of this afternoon – and the rugby on show was certainly worthy of 2! I was reminded by a Press Release from Premiership Rugby that the culmination of the Academy season was to take place at Allianz Park on the 1st Monday of Half Term.
I have no concept of why I didn’t go last year – my nephew was playing that day for Harlequins! I really must see him play one day!
This year the 3 games went like this –
- Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs
- Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby
- Northampton Saints v Saracens.
My journey followed my standard route to Allianz Park – but my day was delayed by having to wait to have my newly bought Ikea wardrobe built! £114 for 3 men to build and fix the thing – and a huge pile of boxes in my conservatory.
I’ve watched school rugby – so understood how entertaining U18’s rugby can be. But I had no concept of just how physical and high tempo the game could be.
I missed the first game – that finished Gloucester Rugby 6 Exeter Chiefs 11. A low scoring game, but I’m sure it was a good contest. This result meant that in effect the Chiefs finished 5 in the Academy competition.
The Fez Club was opened for those who went to Allianz to watch their teams play, it was very welcome to find some warmth on what was a pretty horrible afternoon/evening.
There was food on offer – but on this occasion I have to say what was available didn’t look so special. Drinks comprised both hot and cold – again the warm drinks were heaven sent.
I went to grab a decent seat and got my camera and iPad set up – I have to say the ‘posh’ seats are rather nice. Not quite the high back leather style seats you get with the Tulip Club – but very nice all the same.
And so to the game – Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby – the winner would be deemed to be 3rd for the year.
This game was where I saw the talent and future of Premiership Rugby for the first time! I took notes while the game was going on – to take a couple of the things I wrote down.
- ‘Great individual try by Tigers Charlie Thacker he ran through then used his strength to go over the line’
- ‘Great conversion by Tigers – Will Sutton’
- ‘Tigers all over Bath after 15 minutes’
- ‘Leicester are physically superior – great try again for Tigers as they pass the ball out to the wing’
I think what you can see by those few comments is that for the lions share of the game Bath just couldn’t match the Tigers in any aspect of the game. Tigers took the score to 41 nil.
What was very good to see was that Bath were determined not to go into the changing rooms with that Zero against their name.
They scored 2 tries in fairly quick succession to see the score finish at Leicester Tigers 41 Bath Rugby 12.
I’d been joined during the game by my good Saracens friends Alun and Sharon and having sat in weather that was just getting nastier we adjourned to the Fez Club.
I wonder if Saracens had underestimated the turn out – it was a little crowded, but we managed to find stools to clamber up onto in my case.
The final game between Northampton Saints and Saracens kicked off at 5pm – this was in effect a re-run of the Premiership Final – one that it has to be said ended in heartbreak for Saracens fans!
Having watched what was a one sided affair the game between last season’s champions – Saints and Saracens was a much more balanced – and it has to be said as a Saracens fan – nail biting affair as the teams traded points!
The teams went in with the score on Saints 13 Saracens 13 at half time and with all to play for.
A very famous name – James Grayson – who I believe is the son of Paul – put Saints ahead as he converted 2 penalties to put his team 6 points to the good.
I ‘tweeted’ this game and looking back now I wrote ‘Very Tense!’ as Saracens scored a try from a rolling maul – That try wasn’t converted – Saints kept the lead.
With 2 minutes on the clock Saracens scored another try to break Saints hearts – the game finished with the score on Saints 19 Saracens 23. Saracens were crowned Academy Champions.
The skill shown and the general level of play was superb! It was a throughly exciting game to watch, I can say with my hand on my heart that the future of Premiership Rugby is in good hands.
Having interviewed Don Barrell the Saracens Academy coach – it was wonderful to see his lads lift the shield!
It has to be said that no other Premiership venue could have hosted 3 games in the space of 6 hours in pouring rain – the place must be heaven sent!
Again not to go over old ‘stats’ again – just the best and nicest thing
- Nicest moment – it was lovely as always to spend time with Alun and Sharon – but, seeing the Saracens lads in a huge circle having won the game was great!
- Best moment of the games – it has to be said there were many very impressive moments – but a superb run by a prop right through the middle the pitch – exciting stuff!
The drive home was pretty hairy as the weather was so awful! There was still glass in the 2 inside lanes of the M25 as far as several drivers were concerned however. Song of the journey was – as it often is – Happy by Pharrell Williams