By Jeremy Yew (13A01B)
Photos by Aidan Mock (13A01B)
RI huddling for a pre-match cheer
“Pride! Passion! Soul! Speed! R-A-F-F-L-E-S!”
That pretty much summed up the way the Raffles Rugby Team played in the finals of the A-Division Rugby Police Cup on the evening of 10th May. However, despite their best efforts, they eventually emerged runners-up to long-time rivals ACS (I) with a score of 23-0.
On one end of the pitch, the ACS (I) Bumblebees were an intimidating formation of yellow and blue stripes. With their barrel chests and seam-bursting biceps, they looked more like bears on steroids than eighteen-year-olds.
On the other end, we saw a frontier of determined, fiery Gryphons ready to play their hearts out. They were no small bunch either, but the difference in size was apparent. However, Shaun Sia, a Year 5 member of the team, told us: “It’s not how big you are—it’s how big you play.”
The game started without much fanfare, and a kickoff to the opposing team saw Raffles quickly head into the opposite half. The supporters’ cheers were rewarded with tantalisingly close efforts at the 5-metre mark of the opposing team’s try-line.
About 10 minutes into the game a penalty kick was given to ACS (I) in the center of our half. A hushed silence ensued, the ball sailed between the posts, and the red flags went up. The Bumblebees had just gained an early upper hand of 3 points. Yet that only made our supporters cheer louder and our players fight harder.
After a 45 minute delay (the lightning alert had gone on), the Bumblebees scored an unconverted* try, bringing the score line to 8-0. From then on the match was a constant heart-wrenching see-saw of excitement: Raffles saw many penetrating, powerful runs from a disciplined attack and ensured that the play was mostly in the opponent’s half of the field.
However, when it was in their possession, ACS (I)’s quick, short passes and focused attack strategy put constant pressure on our solid defence, and some of their long-distance kicks proved tricky for the Raffles back-line (sweepers) at times, causing many dangerous forays into our half, and venturing dangerously close to our try-line. Despite the team’s best efforts, ACS (I) brought the score to an uneasy 13-0 with another unconverted try at the end of the first half.
The second half kicked off with Raffles furiously returning into the game, all guns blazing. The crowd saw Year 5 players Matthew Tjeong and Nicholas Phua make daring runs across half the field. Despite numerous promising but ultimately fruitless campaigns into enemy territory, and yet another unconverted try for ACS (I), Raffles displayed true grit, determined to fight till the final whistle blow.
RI contesting for the ball in a lineout
Unfortunately, in rugby, effort and spirit are not always proportionate with results. The match ended with a last-minute try by the Bumblebees and an admittedly dismaying score of 23-0. Even though the players walked off the pitch with broken hearts and shiny eyes, they kept their chins up as the school rallied around them for the Institution Anthem.
Afterwards, team captain Benjamin Broughton told us, “We lost because we didn’t score when we were in their half, even though we spent more time there… There were some individual mistakes by players, but as a team we played well. Although it doesn’t look like it, and the score line might not seem so small, but the game was really quite close.
“This is my last match in RJ. But I played my heart out, had a good team game, and enjoyed playing with my teammates – my brothers – so…
*Unconverted try—after every try scored which gives 5 points, a conversion kick is granted, if the ball goes between the posts it is ‘converted’, granting a bonus 2 points. If it misses, it is ‘unconverted’, and no bonus points are given. A penalty kick scored gives 3 points.
2 thoughts on “No Regrets — Rugby Finals”
as someone who has successfully defended our school’s honor in a rugby final i feel obliged to point out the truth that the political correctness of this article hides: it was a disgraceful heart wrenching white wash. instead of name calling the ACS boys “bears on steroids” consideration should be given to why we were the David that got utterly crushed by Goliath.”Unfortunately, in rugby, effort and spirit are not always proportionate with results.” – of course that’s true because we lacked precision and organization. to be specific we couldn’t win our own lineouts, our backline moves lacked penetration, defense close to the rucks were suspect…i could go on and on. Clearly the blame cannot be placed solely on the players. Team management i.e school/old boys/coaches lack the commitment and ability to match the effort our boys put in. Having lost our best coach in recent years to ACS due to an internal power struggle, no effort was made to find a suitable professional replacement. We should be scouring SANZAR’s schools and trying to poach coaches from Auckland Grammer, Grey’s College, Paarl Gimnasium, Affies etc. as a first step to restoring Raffles Rugby to its former glory. Only the best is good enough for Raffles, accepting anything less is downright insulting. ACS outplayed us off the field and that lay a solid foundation to inflict a crushing defeat on it. Kudos to them. its time we got our act together.
I heartily agree with your points. However, I would just like to make some simple clarifications.
Firstly, this is a school news publication run by a school CCA; so yes, it is largely politically correct. However, this does not take away from the honesty of my personal opinion: that regardless of the disgrace old boys/players/alumni may feel (coming from an age of former glory), the rugby players certainly did their best and played their hearts out for the team and for the school, which is the primary focus of the article.
Secondly, I wish to make clear that I did not intend to insult/demean/name-call the ACS (I) players or use the difference in size as an excuse for our loss; I merely wished to imagine what they might look like to an average spectator. As to considering “why we were the David that got utterly crushed by Goliath”, the size difference is probably due to a greater investment of time working out on their part (or a more effective regime), as well as some of them having played rugby since primary school.
However, most important was the performance of the day; though I praised the team in terms of its efforts and spirit, I suppose I should not have glossed over the details of their technical performance so inaccurately as you observe. I only did so out of consideration for the intended target audience, who may not understand the technical aspects of game play – after all, that is what this piece is all about: not a critical rugby match analysis, but a story of how Rafflesians fought hard and lost, regardless of extenuating circumstances. I admit I could, however, have critiqued the general organization and precision more harshly.
Thirdly, as you have said, “Clearly the blame cannot be placed solely on the players.” While we are not looking to blame people, I agree that more could be done on the part of team management in terms of “commitment and ability to match the effort our boys put in.” Having played rugby from Year 1-4, I am familiar with the context of the current team management/coaching situation. I am in no position to suggest what should be done, but I agree that the school should look to fix the situation and return Raffles Rugby to its former glory, instead of letting the current state/standards go on.
I am afraid, however, that posting your suggestions here may not be very effective as the readership is largely the student population that has little vested interest in Rugby. But thank you for very much for reading and for your comments, and I hope that my response has sufficiently addressed your points.
Lastly, kudos to ACS(I), as you mentioned, but credit should go to our players for doing their best with what they have been given as well, which is what this website is all about. And you must forgive me for my overly-forgiving and myopic bias; I am a Rafflesian after all.
It is indeed time we got our act together.