The AYR 12U squads ended their 2018-19 season in dramatic fashion on March 2 and 3, 2019, with their annual pilgrimage to the Carolina Ruggerfest at the Matthews, NC Sportsplex. Fielding both an “A” side of the more experienced players and a development side, the 12U boys went a combined 5-3 over the weekend, with the “A” side going undefeated through its four matches by a combined score of 150-101, and the developmental side laying a strong foundation for improvement with three tight losses and an impressive Sunday win.
The AYR “A” squad, composed of players from the Inman and Buckhead clubs, opened the weekend with an emphatic 40-0 victory over the Clayton, NC Copperheads. The AYR backs repeatedly found the outside corners against Clayton, with centers Soma H. and Dylan F-R. and wing Oliver H. touching down after long runs. Scrumhalf Sebastian L. and second row Greyson F. also contributed tries by taking advantage of gaps just off the ruck. The only downside to the match was a minor knee injury to front row stalwart Charles N., whose powerful running had set AYR’s backs up for a number of long line breaks.
Having warmed up in the early match, the 12U “A” boys met their stiffest competition of the weekend next, against the Charlotte Cougars. Early tries by flyhalf Richard W. and Jameson H. put AYR up 10-0, but Charlotte struck back before the half, evening the score to 10-10 with outside runs against an AYR defense that failed to maintain its structure after breakdowns. The second half saw AYR step up both its offense and defense. Holding the Cougars scoreless throughout, AYR saw Sebastian L. dart through to go ahead 15-10. A heady 5-meter dash off a scrum by Richard W. in the closing minutes added another try, finalizing the score at 20-10.
The AYR developmental side, playing in their first competitive tournament, posted narrow losses the first day to the Clayton Claymores (15-10) and the Cornelius, NC Cobras (25-5).
The 12U “A” squad’s increased confidence from its narrow victory the day before made for lopsided victories in both of Sunday’s matches. Familiar names -- Soma H., Richard W., Oliver H., Dylan F-R. and Freyson F., joined by wings Cam L. and Jeremiah T., all found the goal-line as AYR rolled to a 40-0 early-morning victory over the Raleigh, NC Rattlesnakes, and then to a win over their cross-town rivals, the Roswell Rebels, by a score of 45-0. The Sunday matches saw AYR “A” dominate every phase of play, improving their ball retention with solid rucking and even executing a successful kick/chase play for a try.
Showing impressive improvement from Saturday, the developmental side opened its Sunday matches with a 25-5 win over the Raleigh Rattlesnakes “B” side, before falling to the Richmond, VA Strikers, 20-5.
Although all the 12U boys enjoyed their wins, the camaraderie developed over the weekend will remain as the best memory of the tournament. Even more important, every player participated in good spirit, and with evident respect for his teammates, opponents, match officials, and coaches. Congratulations to our 12U players!