[Q]ueen Elizabeth Grammar School rugby teams returned from Austria on Monday with both teams finishing among the medals at the United World Games.
QEGS U14s finished in second place at the international competition held in Klagenfurt in southern Austria, whilst the U18s took the bronze medal in their tournament.
Both teams took part in a mainly European rugby competition, which was one of 12 sports featuring at the games. Teams from as far afield as Brazil, India and Mongolia competed at various age groups across the three day games.
The first morning saw QEGS U14s take the field first, and they looked strong from the outset as they beat Stade Rugby Club Wien by 44 points to nil, QEGS tries were numerous, but the best came from Tom Birkett who collected a cross-field kick to score in the corner. The U18s then got their campaign underway with a difficult game against RC Mountfield Říčany from the Czech Republic. Despite superb performances from Harry Thompson and Captain Bruce Spencer, the older QEGS team failed to get into their stride as they lost 22-21.
The younger QEGS side then played some expansive rugby to beat German side MD7er 21-0. James McCloud showed good pace to make several decisive breaks in the game, whilst Harry Chambers and Tom Hill worked hard throughout, Jamie Lucas scored the best of the QEGS tries.
The last match on Friday saw the U18s play Poland Red & White, a side featuring six of the 15-a-side Polish national team. QEGS stepped up to the mark and raised their game to overcome the physically bigger opposition 17-7. Decisive tackles from Makenzie Marston, Matthew Rush and Thompson were the turning point in the match for the Cumbrians.
On Friday evening both QEGS teams lined up to represent the UK in the opening ceremony, the atmosphere was amazing as the teams met players and coaches from all twelve sports, and nations from across the globe. Eventually the Penrith school entered the stadium with David Feddon leading the group as he carried the GB flag in the parade.
Saturday saw the U14s play an early game against Vienna Celtic, and another powerful performance saw the Penrith side run out 26-0 winners.
In the final group game the U14s faced RC Mountfield Říčany which proved to be their toughest game in the pool stages. A physical encounter resulted in a 5-5 draw, with all 12 QEGS players doing their bit to hold the Czech team at bay. The Mountfield side claimed top spot on points difference, but QEGS were able to qualify for the quarter finals as the second placed team in the group.
The U18s returned to action next in a ‘must win’ fixture with Rugby Academy Midden Oost from the Netherlands. This was a hard physical test for the QEGS team, and a scrappy affair saw the Cumbrian school win 24-19 with Greg Baines and Bobby Greenop playing superbly to help their team to victory.
Further wins for the U18s followed throughout Saturday afternoon as they dispatched Rugby Union Donau Wien, and Stade Rugby Club Wien in clinical style. Spencer, Oliver May and Baines were in fine attacking form, and with youngster Greg Judge impressing at scrum half, the QEGS side finished Saturday’s matches feeling confident.
The U14 quarter final was played at the main stadium, and on a bigger pitch the QEGS team found the space to attack with fluency. German side SG Oberhavel couldn’t contain the attacking force of the Penrith side, with Louie Johnson, Charile Crocker and Tom Knowles leading the QEGS effort, whilst in defence David Feddon put in some great tackles.
On Sunday morning the semi-finals were played with a heavy thunderstorm looming overhead. The U14s took on Rugby Ljubljana, and continuing their free-flowing style, blew the Slovenian side away in an impressive 49-0 victory. With results elsewhere coming in, the final turned out to be a repeat of the pool match between QEGS and RC Mountfield Říčany. Jacob Batey and Adam Wilson both ended up on the scoresheet which was reward for their impressive work rate.
A long delay when play was suspended due to lightning and heavy rain meant both teams had to wait to face their final opposition sides.
The U14 final started at a frantic pace in very wet conditions, and despite tremendous efforts from all twelve squad members, the QEGS team couldn’t contain the power of Mountfield. Knowles chased a kick well, and thought he had scored until the referee decided he had failed to ground the ball. QEGS did manage to break the Mountfield defence once, and they crossed the line with a converted try by Johnson. The game finished 14-7 to Mountfield.
The U18 semi-final was always going to be tough as QEGS faces the Czech national team who were much bigger and slightly older than the Penrith team, due to slightly different age groups across Europe. Dalton Frith and Nicky Yielder were magnificent in defence, but as the game wore on the QEGS team just couldn’t sustain the effort, eventually losing 28-10 to a very powerful side. By now the U18s were suffering from an intense three days of competition, and with Joe Tidmarsh and Connor Makenzie-Thomlinson unable to play due to injury, the rest of the squad were left to face RC Mountfield again in the bronze medal match.
The last U18 match was the bravest display from the QEGS team, the conditions were difficult and the Mountfield side were incredibly physical. May opened the scoring for QEGS and with Baines running in a hat-trick of tries, and Spencer in great kicking form, the QEGS side gave everything to finish worthy bronze medalists with a 28-19 win.
Both teams exceeded all expectation from the coaching staff, and played superbly throughout the games.