Colts gained reputation for attacking rugby

The 2012-2013 Sidmouth Colts rounded-off their season winning a relaxed and enjoyable Sidmouth 7s tournament to go alongside their title as the Devon Colts Champions. These Colts were a close and talented group and their team spirit and success should inspire the excellent upcoming junior teams in the club.

Matt Farrington coached the Colts and his leadership and coaching ability were key factors in the success of the team. Training was on Tuesday and Thursday nights and the commitment of a large number of players to regularly make the sessions paid-off.

As the season progressed the squad settled into a core group of about 22 players. The squad size was crucial and though it meant on occasions that some players didn’t get enough game time, there were also weeks when the team consisted of just 16 or 17 players and it was great to see the less regular starters make their mark for the team.

The Colts quickly gained a reputation for attacking rugby and the exceptional pace of the back three of James Dyer, Charlie Cotton and Luke Wells Burr, who between them scored 38 tries in 23 games, was a feature of the season. With stiff competition for places in the midfield, the combinations, who included Finn Cawthera, Charlie Wells, Olly Blyth, George Locke and Ben Ward, were exciting, and by the end of the season Blyth and Locke had forged a formidable partnership. Blyth was awarded ‘Best Back of The Season’ and Locke was awarded ‘Colts Player of Year’. His ability to beat a man, stay on his feet and off load, key skills for a centre, were outstanding. The team were fortunate to have two excellent stand-offs in Jay Wright and Ben Ward and their good natured rivalry was exemplary, setting a positive tone for the squad.  Ward kicked outstandingly, scoring 116 points, and Wright who also played for the 1st XV, has an exciting range of skills. ‘Players Player of the Season’, scrum-half Christian Goddard, showed impressive leadership, made turnovers at crucial times and injected energy and pace into the game when needed. The back row of Gavin Pearson, James Bramley, Mike Bond, Sam Carlisle and Xenon Kearne were all crucial in the success of the side. Pearson, Bramley and Bond are all exciting prospects who will thrive in the adult game and Carlisle has great potential as an athletic ball carrying forward.  

Second rows Jack Sowden and Jonny Youngman were vital through the season, both gaining an excellent reputation in the club and Sowden’s captaincy was clearly missed while he recovered from foot surgery. In recognition of his importance to the team Youngman was named ‘Best Forward of the Season’. John Pares played better and better as the season progressed and his versatility to cover front five positions was impressive. In the front row Dan Rugg had some memorable moments and his great technique backed-up by personality made him a very popular member of the team. Tight head Haydon Down has got stronger and fitter and regularly made important carries, tackles and turnovers. Fitness was also a key factor in the good levels of play from hookers Tom Read and Jack Colwill and Andy Watson and Jamie Balloch were as important as anyone in terms of their playing contribution, enthusiasm and unselfish support.

The playing highlights were home and away wins against Barnstaple who despite a huge squad could not match the cohesiveness and teamwork of Sidmouth. A curtain raiser friendly at Thornbury against a powerfulside, including Under 19 players, was good in terms of character building, and the Sidmouth win was probably not as important as the experience. The best game of the season was the cup semi-final against Ivybridge who had beaten Sidmouth three weeks previously. In front of a big crowd at The Blackmore the Colts were outstanding in defence and backed this up by scoring four good tries which raised the roof of the grandstand and gained a deserved place in the Colts Cup Final.

The final was a memorable occasion and Sidmouth were generously hosted by Okehampton RFC whose talented Colts were unbeaten. With Dean Folland at No.8 they had one of the stand-out young forwards in the county and the tactical kicking of Billy Searle at stand-off and pace of Giles Heard on the wing made for a tense and close game which in the end was dominated by defences with neither side creating enough sustained pressure or space to pull away. The final ended 3-3 with the rules of the competition stating that the cup should be shared - a fair but rather unsatisfactory result after a long season for two teams who can both righty call themselves 2012-2013 Devon Colts Champions.

Colts rugby is often the most exciting, skilful and enjoyable and these players will have formed life long friendships. Sidmouth Rugby Club aims to prepare and encourage junior rugby players for the transition into Senior rugby. Sixteen of this Colts squad have already experience playing 1st or 2nd XV rugby and we sincerely hope that all these Colts remain in the game and start training for next season with the club on Tuesday 2nd July.