As we’ve all seen, the annual Six Nations Championship came to an end at the weekend. A glorious Grand Slam for England as they completed an 80-0 win against Scotland at Twickenham. Well done to all concerned. Of course, there was also a Grand Slam in the men’s championship, this time for Wales who completely overwhelmed Ireland. This happened early on Saturday afternoon so the men’s England-Scotland encounter, which occurred later, had less riding on it. Still, the Calcutta Cup was at stake so both teams still played as if their lives depended on it.
I mention this match as it was a prime example of how fortunes can change radically within a game. The first half belonged to England as they raced to a 3 try lead while Scotland faltered and fumbled, seemingly incapable of even the most basic moves. And then it all changed. Scotland managed to grab 7 points just before the break and went on to dominate all but the final few minutes, scoring three more tries and racing ahead 38-31. This seemingly unlikely change of lead altered the psychology for both sides and, unfortunately for Scotland, there was just enough time for England to snatch an equalising score.
This is why we all love sport of course; its unpredictability. Of course, replacements play an important part in rugby today and large changes of personnel can affect the balance of a game. But psychology still has its part and such changes of fortune happen more regularly than we might think. The very next day Yorkshire Under 20s had their second fixture of the season, a home game at Yarnbury Rugby Club against Cheshire. Here again, the first half belonged totally to one team: Cheshire. On this occasion there was none of Yorkshire’s customary early speed and energy; it was the visitors who mounted the initial attacks. This continued though the first forty and with several minutes of the second half passing they’d amassed a healthy lead of thirteen points, with the home side continuing to struggle.
I think the change this time could have rested on Yorkshire’s first score, a determined run and crawl across the line from Ben Whyte. It gave them confidence and it perhaps sowed a few seeds of doubt in the Cheshire ranks. From that point their play seemed to change as minds turned towards defending what they had rather than adding to their lead. Meanwhile Yorkshre’s passes began to stick, moves started to work and a magnificent run down the left from Tom Mann brought a second score.
Now things got really tense as the minutes ticked away and Yorkshire chased a winning score. It came with almost the final play of the match, this time down the right, a last few solo yards from Will Hughes. Desperately disappointing for Cheshire who’d played with authority for much of the game. A great relief for Yorkshire who can now move on to the quarter final having learned lessons without suffering unduly. Overall a fantastic game which is a credit to both counties. You can see more pictures from this epic game here.