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WRFC Colts 2006-2013
Peter Johnson, WRFC Colts Manager, 2006 - 2013
I've had a long relationship with junior rugby at the Club which started when my sons started playing in the U7's under the watchful eye of Roger Burraston. Like many keen dads, I followed them through the age groups, helping out more and more until I ended up as the U16s Manager and ultimately the manager of one of the best U17s sides in the club's history in 2006. They were known as the “Dream Team”. From that year group, 3 Premiership Players emerged and numerous others who played in the higher divisions of the National Leagues.
My task then was simple! To cajole and persuade this band of young men to move up to Colts Rugby and develop themselves, through association with the senior sides, into accomplished players capable of achievements as high as their ambition and skills would allow. As a result, many of these players form the core of the Worcester RFC First XV and Second XV we see today.
It wasn't difficult to motivate that group. They had been playing together for many years and had shared many successes (and some failures) together. It was also my brief to integrate them into the established playing group who were rising up to become senior Colts. For a season I shadowed Ashley Jones and Stuart James' group, who had had some considerable success themselves in previous years, losing in the National Final in 2005 and winning the shield in 2006.
Helping to make the transition from Mini Junior Rugby to Colts, we were indeed lucky to have the same coaching and support team moving up and enjoying the new experience with the boys. So great credit goes to Dave Arr, Gareth Brown, Jonny Powell, Georgina Priddey and Anna Streather for keeping the squad fit, healthy and most importantly; fiercely competitive and skillful players. Such was our reputation for getting the best out of players and binding them as a squad that we had players coming to us us from far flung places, their parents driving past 2 or 3 rugby clubs to come to WRFC Colts.
My first season in 2006 was “mixed”. The boys were “shy” of the older established players, and this was to remain a problem throughout my tenure. But they overcame this to lose just one game all season and beat Stourbridge in the North Mids. Cots Cup. This level of success was to continue.
CELEBRATING THE NORTH MIDS CUP WIN - 2007
You can’t beat a bit of a social to reinforce the bond between players, so we were fortunate in my first year as Colts manager to be approached by an Italian gentleman, to ask if his son could join the Club. His name was Filippo Musso and his father was president of Biella Rugby. Fil thought he was a 10 but in fact he was a 2 and then he found his home in a 7 shirt; a position which he made his own in the Biella First XV for many years. He was a very versatile player, made a big impact and only stayed with us a short 3 months. We didn’t realize then how significant that event would become for WRFC. Towards the end of the season, Biella’s President Vittorio invited us to go on Tour and play them and 2 other Piemonte teams. Twenty Five players and an appropriate number of sensible staff set off from Luton. We counted them all out and brought them all back... just! We won all 3 games, we learned how to drink, socialize with local girls, get hospitalized and how to destroy a mini bus! They said we were welcome back anytime!
They have toured in Worcester and we have arranged for some of our senior colts to spend a season or two with them playing and coaching. It is a great credit to the WRFC that in developing this relationship with Biella, they say that we changed the way in which they play the game, forever. They are now in the Third tier of Italian rugby, have the most amazing facilities and have the ambition, support and drive to become a very big club. They remind me of another team, long ago.
Long may it continue.
THE TOURISTS AND BIELLA - 2007
Colts is a difficult age group to manage. But the rewards were immense. It takes a strong will to forgo the pleasures on offer at 18 when instead, you could be freezing on a muddy field every Tuesday and Thursday night. When some fell by the wayside or got called into the senior squad, we struggled to get a side out and resorted to younger age groups to reinforce the squads. We looked to the University and the Sixth Form College too, which produced some excellent squad players. The moral is, you have to “grow your own” and keep their attention and desire strong. Again, look at the talent in our current senior sides and how many were involved in Worcester Colts rugby.
WE DIDN’T WIN THEM ALL
I could bore you with a list of all our victories, there were many. It would take far less time to tell you of our losses. There was always fierce rivalry between the local sides; Hereford and Bromsgrove. But there was one club we never beat and it grieves me still. Bedford Colts were virtually a professional side. They had players registered from all the principle rugby schools, boys contracted to Premiership clubs and they were drilled to perfection. They were without doubt the best at that time, and arrogant with it. Our first and best encounter was in the quarter final of the National Colts Cup in 2007. We lost narrowly 17-10 under the most bizarre circumstances; playing in the local park, with insufficient officials, some excruciating decisions and a sense of deep injustice; all of which had nothing to do with the teams.
MOST OF THE 2013 SQUAD
When Bedford withdrew from the competition some years later in 2013, the Colts played some exhilarating rugby both home and away to lose to Bishops Stortford in the final of the U18s National Cup. The best way I can finish is to quote from my programme notes for that final:
“Often confused with the Warriors professional outfit at Sixways, we are not an Academy, we boast no international representatives, nor do we have any premiership protégés. What we do have is a tight group of talented young rugby players who are dedicated to each other and their club. Hopefully that will be demonstrated today in this eagerly awaited final against Bishops Stortford RFC.”
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