Tourists in Grammar tussle

Second row forward Patrick Reeve carrying the ball in open play. Picture: Tim Chapman
Second row forward Patrick Reeve carrying the ball in open play. Picture: Tim Chapman
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A Wisbech Grammar School side has dominated an anniversary test match against a visiting club side from the twin town of Arles in France.

Playing on the school’s newly laid 1st XV pitch, the Wisbech team and Arles-Tarascon Club de Rugby under 17 side locked swords from the first whistle, with hard fought exchanges among the forwards. Early on, the school team edged three scrums and Arles responded in the line-out.

In an encounter marked by good tackling and hard fought breakdowns, Freddy Foreman and Charlie Golding led the way up front, making useful runs, which were well supported by the rest of the pack.

Scrum half Patrick Webb moved the ball wide to Willis Bennett, who put Ryan Hutler and Samuel Hughes into space.

Wisbech then used the passing to good effect, scoring out wide through Hutler and Frederick Bowlby.

As Arles was forced to cover the wide passes, Brodie Ellis, James Sapsford and Oliver Short made yards on the inside, where Calum Burrows-McGill and Ben Goose secured the ball on the floor, which was then moved out to the backs again.

At half-time Wisbech had taken a 25-point lead, but the Frenchmen came back strongly in the second half, competing well at the breakdown and producing good handling rugby in their back division. However, Wisbech dominated the forward exchanges again, with Webb, James Thompson, Foreman and Hutler all scoring.

Arles rallied well in the last five minutes, pressuring the Wisbech defence, but the home side held out until the end, with Jacob Chapman, Jack Maile, Charles Pindar, Dominic Young and Callum Ward all defending resolutely to help Wisbech to a winning score of 45-0.

On the previous day (Thursday) the visitors, who were hosted by parents, pupils and staff from the school as well as members of the twinning club committee, tasted action against Wisbech Rugby Club. In a keenly fought contest involving the Wisbech under 17 team, the set piece was evenly contested, but, as the game broke up, the French boys’ free-flowing style led them to run in good tries and take the match by 34 points to 12.

The Arlesian visit, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the twinning arrangement, followed the Grammar School’s under 13 tour to Wisbech’s twin town in 2012.

The Grammar School’s director of sport, Mr Phil Webb, said: “The tour has been a great success and a memorable one, both on and off the field. The Arles players enjoyed both their matches, winning one and losing one.

“They had a tremendous time in Wisbech and a wonderful experience with staff, pupils and parents at the school.

“The Arles coaches and I extend our gratitude both to them and to the members of the Wisbech-Arles Twinning Club who contributed to the visit.”