The u13s represented the club superbly in Biarritz this weekend.
23 players (including 4 injured players) and their dads travelled to Biarritz on Friday 13 May to take part in a 3 team tournament also featuring Anglet and Biarritz academies. Saturday dawned dry but overcast. The pitch was firm and conditions were perfect for rugby.
Whilst the Rock u13s completed their warm up led by head coaches, David van Zuydam and Finbarr Hayes, the opening game featured Anglet and Biarritz with Birritz triumphing, perhaps a little undeservedly, by 12 points to 7. The standard was very high and some Rock dads watching from the sideline were becoming quite apprehensive. However Paul MacCarthy, another member of the coaching team watched the opening game carefully noting certain defensive patterns which would be key to us subsequently unlocking the French defences.
Rock’s first game was against Anglet. It was a very tight affair ultimately decided by a superb penalty kick from fly-half, Paddy van Zuydam. Clearly a young man with ice water running through his veins. A hugely physical match finished 8-7 to Rock.
Now Rock had to play their second game in succession after a brief water break; the deciding game against Biarritz (yes, the same Biarritz who were Heineken Cup finalists in 2006 and 2010). Cometh the hour, cometh the young men. Rock u13s stepped up and played their best rugby of the season. The forwards, magnificently led by their all action captain, Paddy Corbett, swarmed all over the pitch making tackles, rucking superbly and producing clean, quick ball for a backline that decided, in the heartland of French rugby, that now was the time to produce their best rugby of the season. What followed was an astounding display of quality passing and excellent running lines which was completed by high quality finishing. It was quite something to watch a Blackrock backline play with the elan and skill that is traditional with French rugby deep in the heart of French rugby. Biarritz were blitzed and the game finished 25 nil to Rock. The watching Mike Gibson, of Ireland and Lions fame, was suitably impressed. Whilst clearly unfair to single out individual players…mention must be made of Paddy van Zuydam, Matthew MacCarthy, Hugh Cooney and our own Bayonne Express, Alex Finlay.
Huge credit to the coaching team led by David and Finbarr.
Hopefully the success of the tour, on and off the pitch, will generate big numbers for next year at u14.
Thanks on behalf of all the parents.