Under 12s travel to Southport

Date: 23 December 2013

“We wish you a merry Christmas.
We wish you a merry Christmas.
We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy half time.

Good tidings we bring from us and Justin (silent e on the end – for rhyming purposes)
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Hoppers New Year.”

Enough with the pre “Crimple” (as my Dad used to call it) singing and onto matters at hand. Today we saw another “thanksgiving” fixture of 4 quarters of play. Despite my/our lateness it was a kind present indeed of a fixture near our shores (Geddit – Shores as in the sea!!!) as opposed to the other option of a Whites versus Reds encounter. Thanks again to Southport if you are reading this.

Once more a very combative opposition team were waiting for us on the blustery dunes of west coast. Despite our initial observation of a couple of “Big lads” there was going to be a good tussle for the forwards today. The hoppers forwards throughout the game showed some excellent rucking and mauling, this being to the obvious excellent extended coaching that they have been doing during this first part of the season. The “new” boys in the forwards looked at ease with some of the long haul stalwarts of the team and this on its own was a very nice pre-Christmas present. It is good to see that our seasoned players able to amalgamate with the newer players as if they had been on the same side for years.

Once again the backs finishing proved lethal in the end. What was even more impressive was the support play of the back line and the fact that runners were LOOKING for that final pass on the gain line to enable others to finish the move on the right side of the white wash.

The score in the end ultimately was irrelevant; the manner and quality of play (in some of the coldest conditions yet) was exemplary. This was 4 x 10 minutes of “total rugby” (Those avid rugby theologians will know what I’m talking about). The forwards used their strength and skill to push hard in the scrum, play cleanly in the ruck and maul like tigers in a shopping centre for the full 40 minutes. The backs also looked much more organised than of late. I can only recall a couple of times that “Mr Bieber”, myself and the coaches had to instigate the rapid vocal response for the backs to regain their attaching or defensive shape.

Perhaps the only persistent new years wish is for the lads to spend more time watching where they “want” the ball to be (in hand) as opposed to where it has been. Despite the obvious merits of knowing where the ball is in play, the coaches are confident to reflect that concentrating on where their opposing player is whilst in defence and planning their attacking strategy by focusing on “where there is space” will ultimately lead to much higher score lines in the future against some of our more “oppressive bogey” sides (If any of the team snigger at that previous quote you are fined one mince pie and drop of sherry on boxing day).

Leaving this year it is clear just how far this team has come on over the last few weeks. All the coaches would agree that it has been an absolute pleasure to teach, support and watch this team progress into being one of the best teams in Lancashire. “Do we have a long way to go until we win a cup competition?” well who knows. We have the second round of Lancs cup in the early part of January; but based on recent form and the obvious strength though learning we have a “Darn” good chance.

So just a short write up as my fingers appear to have a little Hillary Scott finger decay and the mulled wine is at optimum temperature. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy new year; just a small ditty at the end to sing over boxing day leftovers in the company of friends to the tune of Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.

“Hoppers the green clothed players,
Had a very shiny ball.

Hoppers the green clothed players,
Looked good in ruck and maul.

A team of hoppers came to town, with scrum hats on their heads.
They ran round making lots of noise.
Extraordinary… Should be on the telly!

Hoppers the green clothed players,
Had a very shiny ball.

Hoppers the green clothed players,
Looked good in ruck and maul”

See you in 2014 – Bring your gloves and hats!

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