On Saturday, 7th December 2019, the final Straits Rugby tournament of the year took place. Two senior year groups were in action, in what was set to be a fantastic day of Rugby Sevens.
The U16s, captained expertly by Derek Lee, started the defence of their 2018 title against SAIS with a comfortable 43-5 win. They then faced SAS, with an outstanding defensive effort and a superb try from Jack Davies seeing the team win by a score of 40 points to nothing. The final group game saw tougher opposition in Bandar Uda Utama; however the performance of the day so far saw Marlborough record a 26-5 victory against the only team who have managed to beat them at Rugby 7s this season. Tommy Triggs scored an excellent try (one of his five on the day) cutting back against the defensive line.
With three wins from three games, the U16s finished top of their group and set up a Cup semi-final with ISKL. Marlborough took a quick lead early on but sloppy play from the home side led to ISKL fighting their way back into the game to make it a contest. The eventual score finished at 28-24, in what was the team’s closest and toughest game in the tournament so far. Will Roue led the talk after the game and made it clear to the boys that an improvement would be needed in the final.
The stage was set for the final against GEMS World Academy Singapore. Marlborough started in strong fashion, with Archie Triggs scoring yet another hat-trick, bringing his tournament tally to 13. The tale of the second half was very different with GEMS forcing their way back into the match, in what was an end-to-end game. Thanks to amazing defensive efforts, in particular from Zack Vaughan, Ollie Wright, and Dom Sullivan in the final play of the game, and a standout performance from Will Roue who played the full 14 minutes with no breaks, Marlborough edged out a 31-26 victory.
Winning two Straits tournaments back-to-back is no mean feat and is a direct result of two and a half years of consistent hard graft led primarily by a senior group of players in Hundred who are regulars at morning clubs (Lee, Roue, Kiran and Rohan Pulandaran, Hovers, Vaughan and Medcraft in particular). The team now turn their attention to the 10-a-side form of the game with the main target being to go one better than last year’s Straits silver medal.
The highly anticipated U18s tournament kicked off against SAIS. In what was a close encounter, Marlborough 1st VII came out on top with a 24-12 win. Pace and power from backs Enzo Guilmart and 1st VII Captain Emilio Thomas being the difference. Next up was Malaysian school Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar. The home side took an early lead but allowed KTJ to score two successive tries which gave them the lead at the break. After a strong team talk, Marlborough took the lead back through a dominant Morgan Oruche try. A stunning kick and chase effort from Morgan Davies sealed the win for Marlborough in what was a close contest. Final score 21-12.
Finishing second in their group, the U18s went head to head with Malaysian school Kolej Professional Mara Bandar Penawar. In what was unknown territory for the U18s side, the team played with their immense passion to do all they could to progress to the final. After going back and forth with the opposition in the first half, Marlborough was behind at the break. During the second half, Ernest Ong, Darcy Tomlinson and Vadim Demesy set a strong defensive platform forcing errors and penalties from the KPMBP side. Hadrien Du Petrini directed the game in attack and Marlborough drew level. In the final play of the game, Marlborough managed to go one better as Zain Arzi scored the winning try to create one of the most impressive victories the team has been involved in. UWC East awaited in the final.
Unbeaten all year, UWC East would be a tough opponent to beat. A strong start saw Marlborough spend most of the first half in opposition territory gaining repeated penalties and eventually Morgan Oruche crashed over the line from close range. Three tries in the second half from UWC East saw them take the victory to become Straits champions. A tournament to be proud of for the 1st VII boys, who demonstrated their skill and pride for the Marlborough shirt.