Medallion Rugby Report | 2022/2023

A talented Medallion Squad had a very good season winning the David Shrestha Shield in their annual fixture against Friends School and reaching the final of the Medallion Plate where they lost to Methodist College. The team was coaches by Jonathan Patton supported by his father Keith, neither of whom were any strangers to RSD.

The season got underway with the annual fixture against Friends School to contest the the David Shrestha Shield which RSD regained with a 35-7. This was followed by wins over Sullivan Upper School, Royal School Armagh, Omagh Academy, Dalriada School and Rainey Endowed School. The first reversal of the season came in a defeat to Ballymena Academy (7-14). The team got back to winning ways with a win at Down HS but struggled in the away fixture against Dromore HS going down 5 – 12.

During the Christmas break the squad had a very good training session against RBAI which helped them prepare for their third round encounter in the Medallion Shield where they played Coleraine GS in both teams first outing in the competition on then Armstrong Field. There was a nervy opening to the match with both sides guilty of making basic errors with CGS took the lead with a penalty on 7 minutes. RSD gradually found their stride and when out half James Gibson levelled the scores on 23 minutes, the score seemed to energise the RSD team as they ran out winners by 34-3.

Sandwiched between the rounds was an away win against Banbridge Academy in windy but dry conditions.

The fourth round match against Regent House on the Armstrong Field was postponed from the Saturday to a Tuesday. Regent dominated the early exchanges to lead 7-0 but RSD battled back to come more into the match levelling the score at 7-7 at half time. The Regent team emerged after half time to dominate both territory and possession. Ball security proved to be RSD’s downfall as too often, they turned over possession with Regent scoring a further two tries as they won 7 – 22.

The RSD Medallion travelled to Holywood to play Sullivan Upper in the quarter final of the Medallion Plate winning the match 29-14. The match was perhaps a little closer than the score suggests with RSD required to defend strongly at times but there were also some well executed attacking moves which saw the team score 5 tries.

RSD travelled to play Ballyclare HS in the semi-final of the Danske Bank Medallion Plate competition in front of a sizeable and enthusiastic group of travelling supporters which was much appreciated by all. The match was played on a relatively small pitch, but the RSD forwards asserted themselves early with two driven unconverted tries on 3 and 10 minutes with flanker Ross Hewitt emerging with ball on both occasions for a personal brace of scores. RSD continued to dominate both possession and territory with out-half James Gibson scoring a try from broken play which he converted himself. RSD survived a Ballyclare attack close to their line just before the interval to lead 17-0. In the second half Ballyclare playing with a slight slope came more into the game, but some good RSD handling brought a try for centre Nathan Hamilton on 40 mins converted by James Gibson for a 24-0 lead. Ballyclare stuck to their task and on an RSD mistake for a try in the left corner on 48 mins which was excellently converted to reduce the deficit to 24-7. Despite a few nervous minutes RSD defended well to prevent any further scores helped by some excellent clearance kicks by James Gibson.

RSD travelled to Friends School Lisburn (kindly granted) to play Methodist College Belfast in the final of the Danske Bank Medallion Plate. The match was played in front of a large crowd with six RSD pupil and staff buses making the journey along with parents and friends. Everyone experienced a typical Northern Ireland spring day with the match starting in a snow shower, with the pitch white and finishing in sunshine.

The opening exchanges were fairly even with both teams making some strong tackles and RSD then grew in confidence and had several entries into the MCB 22m area but it was the Belfast side who opened the scoring after 17 mins with penalty from 40 metres. RSD continued to establish good field position and in first half injury time several forward drives towards the line eventually brought a try for tight head prop Jacob McNutt to see RSD lead 5-3 at the interval.

Unfortunately for RSD the period after half time basically decided the outcome as MCB scored tries after 33 and 40 minutes. The first came when the forwards created momentum which allowed the MCB winger to work an overlap in the left corner and the second when the MCB full back broke the line for a converted score.

RSD regained some control of the match putting pressure on the MCB defence before MCB completed the scoring with a converted try by their number eight after an initial thrust by one of their second rows. RSD displayed great spirit by continuing to attack the MCB line but it held firm although one RSD drive was only inches short of the try line.

Alas it was not to be for RSD on this occasion but the whole squad can be proud of their efforts and performances, not only in this match but over the course of the season and deserve credit for that. RSD now has a great group of players moving into the senior school.

Thank you to the coaches, the Patton father and son combination along with Mr McClintock for their work with the team this season and overseeing their development. Thank you to our main RSD Rugby sponsor Tom Morrow for their continued support which allowed us to offer the players a Strength & Conditioning programme throughout the season. A special mention to Daniel Farmer who was unable to play but assisted the coaches when available and filmed the matches on occasions.

Finally thank you to all the parents and friends of the players who have turned up regularly, home or away to support the team. This is greatly appreciated by the players and by the staff. Thank you.

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