The bronze medal match ended in a second defeat for GB at the hands of Japan. After such a spirited performance against the USA in the semi-final, GB again struggled to exert any pressure at all on the host nation who was cheered on by an exuberant crowd. GB started poorly calling a time out within the first minute, winning an early turnover, before losing it through their own error, and then being penalised for not getting across the centre line in time. The team began to settle and at Q1 were down just one try at 14-13. Japan always looked in control though, and at half time they had edged away to lead by 3 tries at 27-24 and added a further try at the start of Q3. GB struggled to maintain any sort of pattern in the last quarter with Japan completely outplaying us to win 54-49.
I think few of us would not admit that it has been a disappointing tournament for us. We came to Japan with very high hopes having performed well earlier in the year at Lakeshore and on the back of very convincing European Championship performances. We gave ourselves the best chance to prepare by being out in Japan over a week before the tournament started and we set ourselves the realistic target of medalling. Regrettably we never reached the performance levels we believe we are capable of and even our performances against France and Brazil lacked the energy, discipline and ruthlessness that we will need if we are to be serious contenders for the podium next year. This may sound harsh, but only by an honest assessment of our performances can we even begin to address them, move on and be in a position to realise the potential we clearly have. We have come a long way this year but what WWRC19 has shown is that we still have a long way to go and the opportunities to play against the top teams before Tokyo 2020 are starting to run dry.
There were some chinks of light. The USA game, despite the final result showed that when we really play with focus and composure we really can run with the best. It’s worth remembering that the USA went on to win the tournament over Australia, the current world number one by eight tries. Yet we were within a try of beating the USA and at one point were two tries up on them. It will be for further detailed analysis, but I think this tournament will also have confirmed our most effective lines and the sort of game we will have to play if we are to have any chance of taking any of the current top three teams. Another plus was the valuable experience gained by Stuart Robinson who improves with every game and has the potential to be a real threat to any opposition if he can continue his rapid assimilation of the game. Ryan Cowling also showed a big improvement in this tournament, so with still ten months to go before Tokyo 2020 there are some reasons to be positive.
With the end of the international season players will now return to their clubs where I am sure they will be welcome now that the domestic season has started. The Super Series has already seen Division 2 and 3 competitions, with Burn winning the first weekend, DMP Bulls coming second and Ospreys third. In the new one day format for D3, London Lions topped the table and were unbeaten on the day scoring 122 tries. Next up is the second weekend for D2 at Fenton Manor on the 9th and 10th November.
Over the next week we will be reviewing the results of both the Member and Competition Surveys which have now both closed. We will present the findings to everyone and where there are clear themes that we can act on to improve the experiences of Members then we will aim to do so.
The Lord’s Taverners Junior Programme
Last month we took delivery of 18 new junior chairs, which have been kindly funded by the Lord’s Taverners charity. These chairs will allow us to increase the number of young people we are able to introduce to the sport, as well as support new and existing junior clubs. Some of the chairs are already being used by our newest team, Valence School, to run weekly after school sessions, which will be supported by Canterbury WRC.
New South West Development League Starts!
In response to clubs’ request to play more competition, RDO in the South Adam Simmons has set up a new South West WR5s Development League. The league will run one day competitions hosted in turn by each of the clubs who enter. Four teams have entered this year – West Country Hawks, Bristol Bears, Bournemouth Lions and Team Solent Sharks, so there will be four weekends held. The League will run when there are no Super Series games and will provide teams with additional opportunities to play and introduce new players to competition. The first weekend took place in Plymouth on the 29th September with West Country Hawks coming out on top.
That’s plenty from me now, best wishes to all clubs competing in the competitions coming up.