On the schedule it said… Rugby Development Day (RDD), but after the carry-ons from the last RDD and the enthusiasm of players and coaches alike to attend, we had a “get out of jail free” card option by attending the Herfsttoernooi in Etten-Leur instead… after hours of deliberating and soul-searching (in reality, a few minutes down the pub), we choose, Etten-Leur.

The first game was against Tilburg RC, who we last played in a fun-filled mud slinging game at their home ground two years earlier. This game, however, gave us a little insight on the shenanigans to come later in the day. From Tilburg’s kick-off, Josh knocked on… a few meters mind, some said 10 meters, but hey, who counting, the referee wasn’t! Playing to the whistle, the Minis played the ball, going straight up the field to “score” their first try. Attacking again from the restart, the Mini’s turned over the ball and in the next phase saw a completely obviously (two meter) forward pass to the wing, with Jack running in another try… Hello… anyone there? Amazing, the Mini’s were 2-0 up from the first two phases of play, when Tilburg should have had two put-ins at the scrum! The Mini’s eventually won the game 4-1, with Tilburg scoring a late consolation try.

In the next game against Etten-Leur, the Mini’s really came out of the blocks fast. The forwards securing the breakdowns and Christopher doing a great job as a scrum-half, everyone got into the action. Tries from Jacob, Joseph, Leyla, Henry, Josh, Jack… (shall I go on?) secured a 10-0 win.

The next two games continued in the same vein, with the Mini’s winning 7-0 in both games against RC Vets and The Dukes. We must remember some teams would have been understrength due to the RDD.

The last game was played against unknown quality RCC Bekaro from Rosendale. We weren’t really expecting much of a game, seeing how we had breezed through the last four games. To show how relaxed we were, we place our biggest prop; Jacob out on the wing… hey; it was RDD! When the referee turned up, the same referee who officiated our first game, I jokingly said to the player’s anything could happen here… Oh boy!

Bekaro immediately put the Mini’s under pressure from the kick-off. Bekaro were very aggressive at the breakdowns, with some fast runners. In the first half, Bekaro won the majority of the rucks, taking advantage of the referee, who was oblivious to the numerous illegal rucking by Bekaro! The Mini’s didn’t help the situation either by being too slow to engage and protect the ball in numbers. A break down the wing and some missed tackles saw Bekaro score on the right.

1-0 down at halftime, the Mini’s now knew they were in a game. Jacob was moved back into his forward position. The Mini’s started to put Bekaro on the back foot at the start of the second half but wasted a couple of over-laps opportunities, instead, taking the ball inside for a breakdown. Then the controversy… Now, before we begin, we must respect the parent’s decision for their sons to be identified in the following shenanigans… anyway, Wayne’s son was sent off, apparently sent off for a high tackle… which itself was pretty amazing, given the numerous and quite frankly dangerous infringements which had gone on previously. Not only that… the referee, outrageously pushed Wayne’s son in the chest while sending him off! We must admit that only a few parents saw the incident, as it happened on the far side of the field, actually, the coaches didn’t even realise that Wayne’s son had been sent off at this point. Under U12 Mini’s rules, players cannot be removed from the field without telling the player and coaches why they are being removed from the field of play. The referee should have also been aware that U12 games are not allowed to play with unbalance teams. I suppose once the gloves come off, the rules go out of the window ha?

The game now became a barn-fight as the referee lost control of the game, although you could argue, he was never in control… Edwin’s son:-), complained to the referee about Bekaro coming in from an offside position, abruptly being told to “shut up”! A double knock-on went against the Mini’s 10 meters out from their try line, and Bekaro’s fly-half ran in a good try from the scrum to score on the wing unchallenged. The Mini’s blew a couple of opportunities to reduce the deficit and ran out of time, going down to a 2-0 defeat.

It all got heated at the end of the game, with Bekaro accusing our players of physically abusing one of their players. Andy did a good job to stop a riot ensuing, while the Mini’s were ushered away from the debacle. As Bekaro left the field of play, a number of Bekaro players gave our players the ‘bird’… lovely!

Having informed the tournament organisers of the various incidents and given the hostile environment, we thought we wouldn’t stick around for the trophy ceremony. It was a sour ending to an otherwise good day of rugby, regardless of the results, the Mini’s had played some of the best team rugby they had played this season.

Squad: Aiden, Christopher, David, Henry, Jack, Joseph, Jamie, Jacob, Josh B, Josh D, Leyla, Matthew, Valter, Yann

Coaches: Daran, Andrew