Sunday April 14 saw Mackie finally take part in their first Tournament of the season.
The weather had wiped out most of the winters fixtures in the North East and was not looking too promising as we arrived at Stirling with parts of all pitches flooded.
Luckily the weather eased off and we were able to start warming the kids up 30 minutes before kick off. The Stirling Tournament features clubs from all over Scotland so it was always going to be a tough day particularly as most of the other clubs had two tournaments under their belt already.
First up was a keen but inexperienced Biggar side. After trading early tries; Mackie have never been known as fast starters, Mackies superior team work took hold and despite not being their best performance they ran out comfortable winners.
Next up were a more formidable Highland outfit and this was much more of a test for our kids. Mackie’s play with the ball in hand was good with stong running and good support but some of the key skills we had been working on in training such as rucking and defensive speed were lacking and this was the cause of our downfall as Highlands two strong players won turnovers and forced holes in the defence. Mackie stayed wth their opponents but could never bridge the gap of two tries.
Howe were their next opponents. The referee whilst not being biased did display some interesting interpretations of the laws of the P4 game! To their credit Mackie didn’t once complain but the game followed a similar pattern to the previous match with a Mackie score being followed all too often by a Howe score. As in the previous match the opponents greater big match experience was crucial in that they were a bit quicker to react to broken play situations.
Last up were the home side, Stirling. In a thoroughly entertaining game Mackie stuck with the hosts all the way and were unfortunate to lose by a single score. Stirling had two excellent girls playing for them and our gents weren’t too sure how to approach this - which was fatal as the ladies contributed half of Stirlings haul!
Overall a good day and we learnt a lot from our introduction to tournament play. Plenty for coaches and players to work on in the next few weeks.
A good day was climaxeed by gathering round a giant British Lions shirt with Scotland and Lions legend Gavin Hastings.
Thanks also go to the parents who helped keep the guys and girl going during a tough but enjoyable day
Squad; Abbey, Callan, Craig, Hamish, James J, James M, Kelton, Matthew, Max, Thomas
Although the Stirling pitches were rain sodden it didn’t dampen the spirits of the players and the standard of rugby did not suffer, especially when the sun came out.
Mackie P5’s were in pool A of a two pool tournament and their first game was against a strong running Biggar side. The lead was exchanged several times in an exciting and well balanced game before the Mackie boys pulled away to a 7 tries to 3 win.
Next up was Stewarts Melville and again the standard of play was high but all of the Mackie team showed superior handling, tackling and rucking technique such that won easily 8 tries to 2.
After a quick turnaround the team faced a strong Howe of Fife team that they had struggled to beat the previous year and although they were a well drilled outfit they could not cope with the Mackie passing and off-loading game that was at its best in this match. Numerous tries were of real quality with several players handling the ball at pace before the score was made. One aspect that improved throughout the tournament was the rucking and in particular the counter rucking which won several turn over’s for Mackie in the game. Final score Mackie 7 Howe 4.
The final game of the pool stage was against the much fancied Stirling County who had also won all their games at this point, so it would be the winner who went through to the final. A game of high calibre rugby resulted where very few tackles were missed and the ones that did included some full on big hits from the likes of Edgar, Burgoyne, Gilchrist, and Harrison-Lewis. Free running from both sides meant it was a tight game but a determined Mackie team shaded it with a 4 tries to 3 victory, much to the delight of the boys and ardent supporters!
The final was against another Stirling team who seemed to be the fresher of the two finalists having come though a marginally easier pool. The final score of Stirling County 5 Mackie nil did not reflect the possession, territory Mackie had nor the effort that the team put in but Stirling were the stronger on the break and made Mackie pay for some loose passing and tired tackles.
All of the players did extremely well throughout the tournament and should be very proud that they more than held their own on the same stage as some of the best teams in Scotland. However one boy has even more reason to be happy with his performance and attitude throughout the day. This tournament was an HSBC sponsored event in preparation for the British & Irish Lions summer tour to Australia and part of it was for one player of the tournament per age group to be selected to train with the Lions in Wales prior to their departure. Jacob Burgoyne from the Mackie P5 squad was selected by the judges as that player, so congratulations to him and enjoy the experience Jacob!
Squad: Jacob Burgoyne, Rikki Gilchrist, Jonathan Edgar, Finlay Wynne, Owen Harrison-Lewis, Iain Burt, Duncan MacEachern, Andrew Davidson, Leonard Holmes, Rhys Innes,
The P6’s were in a small pool of four teams as Biggar had been unable to enter a team; to make up for this the games were extended and played over two half’s of 8 minutes each rather than 12 minutes one way. The first game was against a strong Stirling team who put Mackie under pressure from the start; the team worked hard and defended well for most of the first half. Just as Stirling were close to scoring Mackie got the ball and this was quickly passed out to Murray who sprinted the whole length of the pitch for the first try to Mackie. The second half saw Stirling attacking hard again and they managed to get a try but with more excellent defensive work from Mackie the score remained 1-1.
The second game was against a Highland side of P6’s and P7’s - this was a tough game with a number of Mackie players taking hard knocks and the final score was 3-0 to Highland. The final game of the pool against Howe of Fife saw both teams struggling in the wet conditions with a number of handling errors and also some good phases of play. At half time there was no score; Mackie kept attacking well in the second half and were rewarded with a try by Owen just before the final whistle making it 1-0 to Mackie.
Stirling won the pool stage with Mackie runners up; in the final Stirling lost to Watsonians. The Mackie team was: Alex, Calum, Cameron, Jack, James, Joseph, Luke, Mathew, Murray, Owen, Rory and Ross.
HSBC were sponsoring the event with Gavin Hastings in attendance; all the boys were given T shirts and took part in a big group photo with a giant Lions shirt.
Despite the lack of competitive rugby of late the Mackie P7’s got off to the perfect start with a determined rugby display against Biggar. Mackie ran out 3-0 winners in the end but there was still plenty to improve upon for the next game. Stewart Melville were next up and again Mackie took control at the early stage and sailed into a 3-0 lead. Stewarts Melville eventually pulled back a consolation score in the dying minutes of the game. The penultimate game of the group proved to be a rather tense and scrappy affair with Mackie struggling to truly exert their authority on the game. The P7’s showed some true grit in defence and eventually pulled clear to record a 2-0 victory. Last up were the host’s Stirling who had been formidable opposition in previous encounters. The game was an action packed and tense affair with Mackie holding a distinct territorial advantage which they could not capitalise upon. The game eventually finished scoreless which meant that Stirling progressed into the final by virtue of a greater try scoring count overall. Nevertheless it was a tremendous start to the tournament season for Mackie with a display that both players and coach can be proud of.