Posted: Friday, Feb 24, 2017
Author: Olly Stratton
Categories: Club News, Rugby News

Valley Fort Chairman's update - Feb 26

Valley Fort Parents,

Now you’ve read the long email about the Festival, here’s part 2 of the weekly update. I said I’d cover the following:

  • Report on the wildly successful KL Tour last weekend
  • The successes of our senior rugby teams last Saturday
  • Training – HKIS this Friday; U11/U12 friendlies in KGV on Saturday
  • Sevens tickets

The tour to KL was a huge success (my perspective, but reinforced by a lot of positive feedback). I’ve included a detailed report on the tour below, but will cover the other items first.

 

Valley RFC successes last weekend

I wasn’t around to watch, but by all accounts it was a really good weekend for Valley RFC:

  • The SocGen Valley Premiership team thrashed HKCC by 61-26 to win the league by some margin and earn a bye this weekend as the Grand Championship play-offs begin. Well done lads, and good to be getting some momentum
  • In National League Division 1, the Knights edged out HKFC Dragons by 14-7 to win the league (first time they’ve topped the league in a few years, I believe)
  • In the Womens Premiership, Valley Black Ladies squeaked through 8-7 against second placed Gai Wu to win the league and keep their 3-year unbeaten streak alive

Let’s get ready to support all the Valley teams in their play-offs next weekend…

 

Training

  • Friday, Feb 24 (tonight). Regular HKIS training 6.30 to 8pm for U9 through U12. Bus details have been circulated. We will be joined by a Singapore touring side Anglo Chinese School (Junior) who are bringing U11 and and U12 teams for
  • Saturday, Feb 25. 3-5pm at KGV School. U11 and U12 friendly games vs Anglos Chinese School (Junior) and their sister school Anglos Chinese School (Primary). We’re teaming up with FC and HKU to form Barbarians teams. Currently we have about 15 kids for each age group, but I’m looking for 6-8 more so we can play 2 teams per age group, Sign up through head coaches/Teamer/TeamSnap
  • Sunday, Feb 26
    • Minis: everybody at our festival in Sandy Bay, with U12 and U12G playing in the morning in the Richard Hawkes and Kim Lam respectively at HV8 and HV4
    • U13: 9.00 to 10.30 at St. Stevens
    • U14 through U19: doing their own thing with matches, 7s, etc. Please check your coaches emails
  • Next weekend, March 3 to 5. Minis back to regular times at HKIS, St. Stephen’s and Stanley Fort

 

Sevens tickets

Don’t worry, I’m working with Hester and Hannette to get the process for ticket applications underway so we can send something out to you early next week!

Just a reminder, to anybody who was lucky in the HKRU public ballot for Sevens tickets. You need to get online and pay for them by 5pm TODAY

 

KL Tour Report

What a weekend! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m very proud of what our kids accomplished. To win 4 cup finals (U7, U9, U10, U11) was very special. But it was a lot more than that – every single team and every single player contributed to a fantastic performance for Valley Fort on the field, but also a truly inspiring experience off the field. To see the cross age group support in many of the games, not just those epic finals (all of which were close games with just one try difference, and U11 and U7 won with a golden try), was fantastic. Also, to see some of the players carrying their mates onto the stage on Saturday night, was what a club tour is all about! I can say confidently that we are a strong club with an excellent club spirit, but this weekend took it to new levels. With such success across the board for all age groups, and so much inclusiveness in all activities, it just felt that we were operating as one fantastic club. Thank you all for making it such a good experience for the whole touring group.

 

A few quick thank you’s:

  • Our amazing head coaches for their leadership, both on and off the pitch, because that’s what really made the tour such a good experience for so many people. This weekend was a culmination of a lot of work throughout the season and they’ve all done a great job
  • All of you who are coaching, because what I saw across all age groups was some really good play on the field and a good camaraderie of it. Many other clubs complimented me, unprompted, on our style of play and structure
  • Several players who volunteered to play up an age group to help make sure we had full teams, and none of them let their new teammates down:
    • Sofia Tornquist and Miguel Lynch playing U6
    • Cody Jacobs and Ciaran Fitzsimons playing U11
    • Several U11 players supporting the U12 teams
  • Everybody for a generally high standard of support and positive behaviour on the sidelines (with the occasional exception…)
  • Keir and Ashlee for the t-shirts
  • Rachelle and her team at Sunpac (and their on the ground support) who got us where we needed to be at the right time (only just for our 2 coaching dads with dodgy passports!). And for getting the hotel to do a much better job in check-in and Saturday dinner. And the priceless Beef Rendang “Specially made for Simon Anam”
  • The KL Saracens organisers who did a truly amazing job to put on a tournament of such magnitude which ran exceedingly well

At the Saturday night dinner we had everybody in attendance, over 310 people, feasting on a good selection of dishes including Beef Rendang “Specially Prepared for Simon Anam” (at least that’s what the label said!). We celebrated 4 birthdays and presented awards.

 

Congratulations to the kids below who won the Spirit of Valley awards, demonstrating commitment, teamwork and performance throughout the season:

  • U6 – Olivia Plotkin
  • U7 – Hugo Bolton
  • U8 – Sebastian Schroth
  • U9 – Felix Will
  • U10 – Anton Baxter-Pronk
  • U11 – Charlie Maltas
  • U12 – Matilde Poza-Cornaggia, Luca Marriott, Luke Incledon

 

Team results

I watched a lot of rugby on both days and was glad to be able to see every age group, most of our teams, and most of the finals that we played in. Every team played well. The details by team are below, but I’d like to share my highlights too:

  • Watching the U6 cup semi-finals which VFA and VFB played concurrently at different ends of the U18 pitch. A very stressed head coach Warren running between the 2 pitches wondering whether to switch players from one team to the other mid-match. Unfortunately we lost both games by a try at the death, but we obviously won the plate, and were runners up too!
  • The U7 cup final which went to a golden try. Our guys were rock solid in defence and never looked that we’d lose, unless it came down to the toss of a coin… And then we scored the try we deserved
  • In U8s, the smiles on the faces of the Berliners, father and son, after winning the Bowl final!
  • Of particular note was U9 VFA who didn’t concede a try all tournament. Quite awesome!
  • In U10, we had VFA play VFB in the cup semi-final. Such a shame that one team had to lose,  but a fantastic outcome for the U10s to end up 1st and 4th in a very competitive age group
  • The U11 cup final was a nailbiter. As usual we had to come from behind, but VFA then hammered away at HKFC’s line for a full 7 minutes against heroic HKFC defence without an error until we finally sneaked over for a crucial supertry to tie the scores and take us to overtime. And then we got the ball to Jack Quinnild and the rest is history…
  • The U11 VFB team deserve a special mention, competing for 2 days without looking to any VFA support and they held their own against all the big clubs (even holding out HKFC for most of their group game)
  • The U12 squad were slightly short of player numbers for 2 teams, and it all came to a head when both VFA and VFB qualified for the Bowl semi-finals. So unable to call upon support from U11, and playing 2 rounds of consecutive games (against the same opposition!), it was always going to be a challenging exercise for JB and his coaches to select teams that “looked” different (that’s when headgear is valuable!) and had the energy for tough finals back-to-back. With the pitch marshal asking where his team was for the next game, and JB had to inform him that they were still debriefing from the previous game. Well done to finish with smiles on your faces!
  • Mr Ref himself, Rich Collis, was the only non-Malaysian referee this year and fortunately brought his very standard to the high quality U18 competition. The local refs idea of a warm up was to sit under an umbrella drinking water, whereas our man Rich put even the teams to shame with 20 minutes of stretching a jogging…. Well done Rich and thanks for doing the hard yards (again) with the whistle!
  • We did have a Group Photo. Immaculately planned at a time when we could get EVERYBODY in the same place at the same time. The only person missing? The Chairman who’d gone to round up the last U9 team who were finishing a game. Aiyah!

 

Summary of results by age group:

  • U6
    • VFA – plate winners
    • VFB – plate runners up
  • U7
    • VFA – cup winners
    • VFB – saucer runners up
    • VFC – shield runners up
  • U8
    • VFA – bowl winners
    • VFB – 11th place
  • U9
    • VFA – cup winners
    • VFB – bowl runners up
    • VFC – 12th place
  • U10
    • VFA – cup winners
    • VFB – plate runners up
  • U11
    • VFA – cup winners
    • VFB – 12th place
  • U12
    • VFA – bowl runners up
    • VFB – 8th place

 

I’ve been copied on several excellent detailed reports by age group head coaches, and I’d encourage them to put them on the website where others can read them. The report below is one that is pretty special, and epitomized what the tour was all about, written by Myles Baxter, entitled VFC's KL Tour Report - Dirt Tracker Spirit”:

The record books show that the VFC KL team finished 12th out of 20 in the U9 competition. Respectable for a C team, but with a record of played 6, won 2 and lost 4, compared to the success of the rest of the club’s teams across all age groups, these results were nothing to write home about. But the statistics don’t tell the full story and while we didn’t return with any silverware, there were plenty of positives to report from the weekend.

The team of Rory, Max, Brady, Michael, Danny, Oliver, Felix, Tijl and Stein was not one blessed with the pace, handling skills or steely competitive edge that can rip through the opposition. Being a third string touring side can be tricky, an afterthought to the main event, and with just two coaches on Saturday and a late drop out leaving us a player short of a full starting line-up we had the air of a British & Irish Lions mid-week dirt tracker team, infamously known for making or breaking a Lions tour, as we headed off to the tournament early on Saturday morning.

But we needn’t have worried. Ably supported by players from the other teams and the vocal encouragement of the on looking parents, the boys took to their task with gusto from the start and by the last game on Sunday afternoon, when playing the HKFC in a dead rubber playoff match at the end of a long hot weekend, demonstrated a dogged determination that we had not previously seen from them.

There were a number of highlights on the field, including a comprehensive win over the KL Tigers in the group games but the standout has to be the boys’ defensive efforts on the two hard fought games on Sunday, first against the Centaurs in the bowl semi-final, and then against HKFC in the playoff, with both opponents fielding teams of big A and B grade players.  We lost both games by a single score, but the boys fought tooth and nail for the full games, spending much of the time resolutely defending their line, never taking a backward step and trying their hardest to get the scores we needed.  All this from a group not known for its tacking prowess.  OK their technique and support play still need work, as does our organisation when taking free kicks and penalties, but we couldn’t fault their effort and determination to stay in the matches. To single out any particular boys would be unfair for this was a collective team effort with everyone playing their part. We even won most of the lineouts cleanly. Maybe practicing set pieces isn’t such a bad idea after all.

The tears shed after the Sunday matches didn’t stem from the cuts and bruises the boys suffered in what were physical encounters, but rather from the pain of losing matches by such narrow margins.  But the boys punched well above their weight and they should all be proud of the effort, grit and character they displayed and how much they improved because of the passion they felt to play for their team and put their bodies in where it hurt. They truly showed the best of the dirt tracker spirit.

Many thanks to the players from VFB (and the few from VFA who we managed to sneak past the tight security cordon thrown around them), who keenly volunteered to play for us, and I hope we got the balance right in trying to ensure the VFC boys spent most of the time on the pitch even when we were playing teams that took an alternative approach to selection. Special thanks also to the parents for keeping the boys occupied during the long breaks, with not a device in sight, and for those who turned up to support us, especially in the Centaurs game on Sunday where the atmosphere really got the boys going from what was a very sleepy warm up session following a late night on Saturday.

Of course, huge congratulations to the A’s for such a dominant overall victory and to the B’s for getting into their final.

But touring isn’t just about rugby.  The off-field highlights were the dinner on Saturday night when the boys shared a table and did what a lot of them do best, namely eating!, the water park, beers and post-match analysis around the pool on Saturday evening, and Felix’s well deserved Spirit of Valley award, leading to a spontaneous outburst of tears from his proud mum!  

Finally a big thank you to Simon and Olly for getting us a late third team into the competition, as well as their overall organisational skills, leading the boys (and parents) to experience what was a memorable weekend.

 

I’ll wrap up with extracts from 3 emails we received on Monday, which both so reinforce what Valley Fort was about last weekend:

  • From Tim Lambert, CEO of Centaurs: “My U9s head coach Navesh Perumal would like to send a congratulatory note to your U9 head coach. Could you send me his email address please. I wasn’t at KL Saracens this year but have heard it was a great final, played in good, rugby spirit. As an ex-Stanley Fort parent and coach, it is always great to hear good things of Valley Fort. I set up Centaurs 15 years ago having spent 7 years at Stanley Fort. Just like you, the coaching model I employ here is to have “pro-coaches” (SG Internationals and Prem players) to coach at all age groups. The great thing here is to have 7 clubs now and a 6 month competitive league for the U10s and above. My aim has been to be competitive against the mighty HK clubs and I feel we are very close. VF is my benchmark J.”
  • From Navesh Perumal, Centaurs U9 head coach: “Our U9 Centaurs congratulate your team on a well-deserved win at the KL Saracens tournament today. The sentiments were shared by all our Singapore clubs. The boys played with a clear level of skill and discipline, and fully deserved the win, a true testament to the coaches and kids to their commitment and effort. It was our pleasure to have seen the result of a great tournament down to two well deserved teams coming together  in the final. Both teams played with great respect and outstanding sportsmanship. We thank you and the kids for your humble and gracious win. As coaches and parents we heard very little sideline support for your boys and with much respect, for the confidence shown in your boys to manage themselves without interference. We apologise for our full team not being there for the ceremony and again thank you for your sportsmanship and graciousness in support of our effort and 2nd place. Much appreciated. We unfortunately had a 5pm flight, and would have enjoyed celebrating the boys unquestionable determination and efforts. Your team and your coaches were an outstanding example of what we believe in rugby, and our common philosophy at Centaurs, we teach our kids life skills through rugby.  My personal thanks to your kids for being great sportsmen and to your coaches for comforting some of our boys desperately holding back the tears after the whistle. Much respect.”
  • From Dom Gyngell, HKFC U11 head coach: “Obviously our kids (and parents!) are very disappointed today but there were no complaints, the better team won. I thought we had it after Seb scored as we haven’t conceded a try in forever, but your boys showed amazing heart, skill and commitment to come back and win it. It was a really impressive display of controlling possession from a group of 10 year olds, they should be proud. As you say, these games are always played in good spirits and it has become a great but friendly rivalry. So some slight consolation for us that it shows HK mini rugby at its best in every sense. See you next week and tell your boys we already have our sights on winning the cup back next year!”

 

It’s a hard act to follow, but bring on next year….

 

Oliver Stratton

Chairman, Valley Fort RFC

Tel:  +852 9026 0520

Email:  olly.stratton@gmail.com

Last updated: 24 Feb 2017 14:04