How do you judge the success of a season? In wins? Well, this group of boys have scored double figures in this respect......or is it on performances? Well, this group of boys have performed outstandingly well, week in and week out, and in some horrible conditions after half term. Or is it something that is indefinable and more intangible? That sense of togetherness, that spirit that binds a group of boys together and is so tight and strong and no one wants to let each other down and individuals work incredibly hard for the betterment of the team. Yes....that is more of the definition of a successful season for me.
Once again, these boys drank deeply at the well this afternoon and really took the game to Merchiston. We played with real ferocity, dominating the breakdown once again, relentless in our recycling, and with Harry slotting in for Max at fly half who was carrying a niggle, he managed to link well with the backs who proved a real handful with their incisive running and skilful off loading. Despite the atrocious conditions, the skills on show from both sides was superb, and showed the new SRU laws at this level at their best with the ball in play and alive for longer periods and the continuity was excellent.
We scored four tries, all converted, and on another day would have scored another four but some excellent Merchiston last ditch tackling saved the day for them; we never looked in trouble really, and I was able to stand and witness just how hard these boys work for each other. There is no star individual, no giant who the others can gather round, no superstar speedster who will get them out of trouble if someone misses a tackle. No. What we have had this season are 13 (although 17 boys have played for the 1stXV over the course of the term) incredibly committed boys who have given their all every single week, and they have played some scintillating rugby at times. To score 50 points against a previously unbeaten Belhaven side (they had not tasted defeat for 5 years!), to score 60 up at Ardvreck and down at St Mary's, to draw with Aysgarth in our return game a couple of weeks ago......all these stand out and show the exciting brand of rugby we have tried to play this year.
But for me, the highlight came in defeat, away on tour at Aysgarth. On the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and with Harry and Todd having got up at 530am to play the pipes in Skipton, both teams stood respectfully in silence before the game, with parents lining the touchline, heads bowed, and as the skirl of Harry's bagpipes echoed around the misty Yorkshire Dales, the scene was set for a different kind of battle. We lost, narrowly, in one of the very best games of prep school rugby I have been involved in (and I have seen a few!) but the sense of teamship, that sense of togetherness from this group of boys was there in bucketfuls that Sunday morning in November. They gave their all in a hugely physical encounter and just came up short. It did not matter. Defeated narrowly in a titanic encounter, yes, but unbowed......and we came back stronger.
Thank you to the boys for making this 1stXV season one of the very best in my 15 years running the rugby at Cargilfield. They have been outstandingly well led by Todd, but every single one of them has stood up and played their part in what has been a memorable few months.