A combined OAs U13 & U14 team came within a whisker of winning a rugby tournament in France against several of the country’s top clubs. OAs were the only English team in a lineup which included Toulouse, Stade Français and Racing Metro.
They were hampered by the fact that they had only played together once before and had to deal with differences in the French rules for their age group together with some differing interpretations of the laws. Despite this, they didn’t lose a match all day. They beat seeded team Orleans to top their pool in the morning. In the afternoon, they won a hard-fought battle against the host club, Marcq and then smashed Toulouse 25-0 to march into the Cup Final.
They were held to a 7-7 draw in the final by a provincial side made up of the best players in the north of France, who were eventually awarded the winners trophy because they had scored one try more than OAs in the morning. 9 tries to 8.
Tour manager Chris Butterworth said “I’m extremely proud of the boys. They played fantastically against some tough opponents and improved with every game they played. We did far better than our hosts were expecting and we even had a scout from Racing Metro showing an interest in 2 or 3 of our players asking if they would like to move to Paris!
The final was extremely tense and could have gone either way and while we were gutted not to have got the trophy we definitely left with our heads held high.”