Rugby Straits 2023
On Saturday 2nd December, the MCM pitches were home to the Rugby Straits. The highlight in the Rugby calendar, with over 50 teams from across the width and breadth of Malaysia and Singapore. Despite the weather warning, the day was bright, dry and full of opportunity.
With an 8 AM beginning, the day started sharply with pupils across the nine pitches squeezing last-minute stretches in, exchanging game plans and sharing suncream. The teams were spread out across the following age ranges, U11s, U12s, U14s, U16s and U18s. The competition was fierce with teams playing each other and playing the 1st and 2nd teams before whittling down to the final teams for the final heats. Spectators had a great view across the sports fields as each pitch came to life, demonstrating the best rugby talent in Johor.
In the U11 category, the team made it to the final, despite competition along the way. Impressive with the limited training they had and ended the day with silver medals. The U12 team also made it to the finals despite going against teams with much more experience and training. The final game against the Dragons resulted sadly in a loss but could have gone either way. The U14 team faced tough opposition but fought vigilantly across the day, working as a team and communicating well with each other. The U16 team started well and continued playing as a team, their resilience meant they made it to the semi-final and ended the day in fourth place. The U18 team started the day with a victory against Mara Bandar Penawar and went on to perform well across the matches on Saturday. They ended the day in a respectable second place which will put the boys in good sped as some of the U18 squad go on to have FOBISIA trials this weekend.
Congratulations to every player, the teams showed resilience, sportsmanship and skill. It was a great day for Rugby and the support that all teams received from parents, beaks and fellow pupils was superb. Well done to the winning teams in each category, it was a well-fought victory and a thank you to the Sport and Events Department for making the day such a big success.
MCM Coaches Summary
U11s – Mr Wicling
The U11s went into the tournament with a few friendlies under their belts but were not sure if they were quite set for a full tournament. However, the boys were fantastic on the day. We went into the first game against the Killerbees B team and played very well coming away with a 2 tries to 1 victory. This good form continued into the second game as we beat Centaurs 3-1 and the enthusiasm in the camp was high. We lost our third game against SCC from Singapore but we were pleased with our performance. In the final group game we played the Dragons and at 3-1 down the writing was on the wall. However, 3 late tries gave us victory in the last seconds. As the scores were added, we ended up as group winners and off to the final. Unfortunately, the Killerbees A team were ready for us and won convincingly. Overall, the boys were brilliant and performed superbly, after just 3 weeks of training. Congratulations on your silver medals.
U12s – Mr Jones
The U12s were sensational in the Straits tournament for 2023. Coming up against some competitive teams with many years of rugby experience and much larger in stature than our squad, the MCM boys are to be commended for their bravery and commitment. The first game was character building, we lost by a significant margin but learned much more than we would have if we were on the winning side. To witness the way the squad bounced back was truly inspiring. The highlight of the day was a narrow 3 tries to 1 loss against the Dragons in our final game. This was a see-sawing contest which could have gone either way but the bounce of the ball on this occasion went in favour of our opposition. Thank you to the referees, players, supporters, parents, medical professionals, organisers and backroom staff for a wonderful event. We are already looking forward to the next one.
U16s – Mr Scott & Mr Smith
The MCM U16s entered the tournament in a confident mood after a pleasing set of victories against Raffles Institution Singapore earlier in the week. Our first match was against Singapore American School and saw the boys secure a comfortable 29-0 victory. The second game was against Tun Hussein Onn Rugby (THOR), who compete at the highest level across Malaysia every year. With the lead changing hands multiple times, Amir Khan scored a try with a minute left on the clock to level proceedings at 17-17. Max Cassidy kept his nerve to slot the conversion and the team was able to see out the final play of the game to win 19-17. Unfortunately, we were beaten in the final group game by a very large and physical Dragons team, which saw us finish second in the group on points difference and scheduled against SSTMI in the cup semi-final. Despite us taking the lead 7-0 in the early stages, SSTMI proved to be too skilful and ruthless with the ball in hand and came back to win 33-7. This put us into the 3rd/4th place playoff against, once again, THOR. Their greater squad depth prevailed on this occasion and the boys finished 4th overall. We move onto the FOBISIA tournament this weekend with confidence that with a few tweaks to our structure and tactics, we can be highly competitive.
U18s – Mr Baker and Mr Preddy
The U18s performed admirably in the MCM Straits on Saturday 2nd December. In the group stages, we started slowly, lacking discipline against Centaurs but scored in the final seconds to win 14-12. Our next match a few hours later was against ISKL and it was pleasing to see the whole squad get game time and put in a dominant performance win and a comfortable victory 31-0. We lacked energy in our final group game and made hard work against a robust Mara Bandar Penawar, eventually closing the match out with a 17-10 victory. Through to the cup semi-final, we produced our best performance of the day against The Dragons from Singapore. Initially, a tight contest was settled by having a solid set piece, a strong defensive performance and some outstanding individual efforts by Yusei Saeki and Josh Vaughan. The final against SSTMI was a significant step up and we finished a comfortable second in all departments, as we were unable to deal with the pressure and suffocating nature of their defence. The boys can all be proud of their achievements on the day as they won a silver medal after such little preparation against strong opposition. Head Coach Mr Baker said “I am extremely proud of the efforts of all the boys throughout the day in far from ideal circumstances, we have come a long way in such a short time and this should act as a springboard for the sevens season next year.” Assistant Coach and S&C guru Ethan Preddy added “The boys have been a pleasure to work with in preparation for this tournament and shown real commitment and drive with early morning gym sessions as well as practices during games and after school. As our focus turns towards the sevens the crucial aspects of speed and endurance will be our focus to ensure we are well equipped to deal with the demands of the game.”
The build-up to the MCM 7’s Straits in the New Year then begins in earnest over the Christmas break.