Hadrian Cup 2018
1 weekend, 2 flights, 3 alcohol infused nights of fun and 4/4 games later, the Emerald Warriors bring the Hadrian Cup for 2018 back to Dublin for a second time in two consecutive years.
Being my own first experience of the competition and a much changed team from the previous year’s winners, the pressure was on to bring some silverware back to Dublin. A team of two coaches and fifteen players travelled to Newcastle to represent the Emerald Warriors. Of these fifteen players, seven have only been involved in the club from our September recruitment of 2017; a great achievement for such a short period of time involved with the club.
Saturday morning saw us travel to Percy Park where the Hadrian Cup was being hosted. We arrived with varying stages of hangovers but none the less excited to get out on the pitch. With three group games to win to progress to the final, we were drawn in a tough group against good opposition.
Our initial game saw us play against our hosts; the Newcastle Ravens. We started well registering two tries on the board in quick succession by exploiting the space on the pitch. It was a very close game which finished 21-14. We were delighted to get the first win; it calmed the nerves, players got into the game as time progressed and the hangovers were gradually disappearing.
Our second match was played straight after our first against the Leeds Hunters. There wasn’t much time to rest, however this suited us as our confidence was on the up and we knew which mistakes we needed to correct from the previous game. Our defence was tighter, our attacks were direct and everyone stepped up to the plate to represent the club. The game finished 21-0 to the Warriors bringing us to two out of two wins.
After a lunch break and a hilariously awkward interview with John Gavin, we had our final group game against the Caledonian Thebans. We were more than ready for this game, our team spirit was incredible, full of positivity for each player and a real ambition to go out and improve on our previous performances. We stole in the ruck, we dominated scrums, we stole line outs and we never gave up. This was a great feeling as looking at each and every player; I could see the determination in each face, knowing they wouldn’t stop until the final whistle. This game finished 35-0 which secured our place in the final.
With around 45 minutes in between our last game and the final, we returned to our allocated changing room on a high. It’s hard to describe this time; I sat back looking at each of our players very proud of their performances, but also that I could see a real bond developing in this small group. We were laughing and joking, but also focused on the task ahead as we got closer to our final task.
Having opportunities like this are very beneficial to a team as they don’t come around often at training or matches. You’re spending a large portion of time in each other’s company and you learn much more about your team mates. This is why I would highly recommend any Warrior player to participate in tournaments such as the Hadrian Cup, Union, Bingham etc. irrelevant of experience level. We have all joined the Emerald Warriors for different reasons and at different recruitment phases. We already have a great team ethos within the club, however tournaments offer an extra dynamic which I hope a lot of you will experience when we travel to Amsterdam and for Union Cup here in Dublin in 2019.
Our final match saw us drawn against the Glasgow Alphas. With some high scores racked up in their group games, we knew we had to dominate from the start. Each and every one of us wanted the win and wouldn’t rest until we seen it through. Each player throughout the tournament got better and better; however the final was the icing on the cake in terms of a whole team performance and a final score of 35-7.
Individually, each player had a fantastic competition and as a collective, we formed a formidable force:
Mark: A consistent performance throughout, always in the right place at the right time. Led from the front and didn’t stop until we were named winners.
Sam: Made tackles for fun. Neutralised attack after attack after attack and formed a great partnership with Mark.
JT: Devastating in defence and attack. Progressing immensely these last few weeks and really made a mark on the tournament.
Gavin: As ever, a total performance doing everything asked and more. Stealing lineouts, driving runs and pin point tackles to name a few.
Ryan Mc: (V. Captain): A true leader on and off the pitch. Always first to lead the line of defence and positively arranging the team to best effect.
Richie: Made tackles, always alert to possible threats, organised the team around you and broke with speed to put the opposition under pressure which the rest of team followed by your example.
Conor: Learning from training was evident on the pitch. Doing what we talked about well and putting yourself on the line making last ditch tackles which was great to observe.
Colin: Either as part of the backs or forwards, you slotted into the team with an understanding of each position. Match v Thebans proved what you are capable of.
Jack: Never gave up and executed your role with ease. Always there shouting for the ball, spotting gaps to attack and stealing in the lineouts.
Keith: Got into the game and never looked back. Continually improved on each performance and replicated the skills you’ve demonstrated at training and brought this to your game.
Noel O: Since Monday 19th February, It’s as if everything has started to come together and you’ve put in some eye catching performances showing what you are capable of. You added a different dimension to the team with driving runs and clever passes doing the hard work to make the scores look easy.
Gary: You bring so much experience to this team and utilise it match after match. Your all round game is superb and was superb all weekend with that final try of the tournament topping of an incredible performance throughout.
Ryan: Intelligent play knowing when to give the pass, who to pass to with best effect and ran the show with a classy performance. Never afraid to try something new to put the opposition on the back foot.
Phil: The anchor in the middle of the pitch. Strong runs, cutting passes to split the oppositions defence and clear instruction on our plays for the rest of the team.
In terms of our coaches; Michael and Simon, we really couldn’t have done it without you both. Nothing was too much to ask and you managed the squad so that everyone got a chance to play. Your positive approach really benefited the team and pushed us on when we needed it. Really, a massive thank you to both as it meant we were able to solely focus on our games.
Finally, a huge well done to the Newcastle Ravens for organising such a fantastic weekend from start to finish. Also, a massive thank you to all involved for making it such an enjoyable experience. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam in the coming months, but more importantly, here in Dublin for the Union Cup 2019.