This year we have had an incredibly committed and successful rugby program.
The work started with Mr Todhunter running a series of brilliant girls’ rugby sessions from September through to March. This was a fantastic introduction for the girls.
In April we got the opportunity to enter the Newcastle Thunder Cup for our Year 7 boys and girls teams. Our girls co-captain and boys co-captain attended the draw which was the start of our rugby league journey.
Each Thursday night we trained as a team looking to develop knowledge and skills in preparation of our competitions. After extremely narrow defeats to experienced teams in our first outing both teams developed a love for the game and were determined to be successful. With each session the students gained more confidence and hunger for victory.
The boys travelled down to Durham to play in their quarter final match. In an extremely close contest, the Hexham Middle School boys came out victorious after a string of sensational tries. The way the boys were beginning to gel together showed a great togetherness and team identity.
A few days later it was the turn of the girls who hosted their opponents. The girls started brightly and their tenacity and tough tackling allowed them to win the ball back in good positions to come out victorious.
The semi finals came around and it was the girls in action first; an away trip to North Tyneside was their reward for a great showing in the last round. In what was a magnificent display of rugby league the game was tied until 40 seconds before the end. A clever kick and chase saw Hexham Middle School to victory with a dramatic try in the last minute try. Jean Barnett, ex-PE teacher and current co-coach, spoke of her pride and delight at the performance. The girls were into the final.
The boys played the very next day and were eager to join their peers at finals day. In a game where everything worked in both attack and defence the boys were victorious. A magnificent performance! Paul Gaines, Head of PE at Hexham Middle School, was full of praise and admiration for the team and praised each players enthusiasm and professionalism on the day.
At Hexham Middle School every single member of staff offers such an incredible range of enrichment and development opportunities. Ian Holdsworth organised a brilliant music evening where 120 students were involved in a variety of ways, including some of our rugby team, as one example of this. The weekend of finals day saw 11 of our 18 students involved in the semi finals on the school French trip.
As a result of this the remaining players rallied around their peers and new students, some with no rugby experience, stepped in to represent their school. The students trained each day that week to develop their knowledge and skills. Whilst doing this they developed a love and passion for the game.
Finals day came and the girls were the first team in action. After an injury in the warm up saw a key player ruled out things were not off to the best start. However after withstanding some early pressure the girls grew in confidence and scored the first try! Off the back of some incredible defending Hexham turned the ball over in a good area of the pitch to capitalise to get a second. A third then followed leaving a healthy lead at the break. Some great play by the opponents pushed Hexham back but a couple of late tries sealed a huge 24-12 victory in the Newcastle Thunder Girls Plate competition! An incredible achievement!
The boys watched the girls success and this motivated them even more. Against a team with a lot of experience and a clear size advantage the boys knew this would be tough. Despite falling behind early on and under immense pressure the boys attacked with pace and a purpose to score a couple of quick tries, including a sensational solo effort! The teams went into half time level.
Into the second half the teams both played some great rugby league showing the pace of the game. However quick play by Hexham’s full back allowed him to complete a sensational hat-trick. The defence remained tight until the end to see Hexham Middle School victorious 24-16 in a thrilling match. Newcastle Thunder Boys Plate Champions.
I would like to say a huge thank you to every single player who has played in any match and that has attended training. Your work rate, attitude and commitment to your school is outstanding and everyone at Hexham Middle School is very proud of you.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff at Newcastle Thunder for a great competition and we are already looking forward to the expansion of this competition next year.
Finally I would like to thank all of the staff at Hexham Middle School who supported the teams throughout their journey this year all the way to the final whistle.
Rugby League is an extremely exciting sport and we are very excited about the forthcoming year to see how the students at Hexham Middle School develop.