Playing in the Gold Coast Rugby Carnival for the first time in about 10 years, Stratford High School brought home not one but two trophies, the First XV and the Sevens cups.
``They never gave up. They fronted and grunted it up, and won,'' says coach Jeff Walker.
Stratford was the only side in the Red division that remained unbeaten. Stratford A started the Sevens on a high note, beating Melbourne High 59-0 and Pakuranga College 23-5, and downing Morrinsville 17-6 in the final. Jeff says the Sevens were played in perfect weather conditions, and then the wet started.
``We played in a bog, it was a real game leveller. Their teams were quite big with many players being over 100kg. The wet took the sting out of them, not being able to run the ball at us,'' he says.
``Most games centred around the forward pack and inside backs.''
Their toughest game, says Jeff, was their First XV play-off, against Hutt International, which Stratford pulled off 3-0, followed by a draw against Gold Coast. The second day of the First XV tournament saw them beat a TSS development team 15-5 and draw 5-5 with Tauponuia College.
Facing St Pius on the third day, captain William Arnold says they had to win to top their division. Beating the college 35-0 set their spirit flying, carrying them through to a 12-11 win against Morrinsville, who had dropped from the first tier open section.
Players commended were Andrew Hunger, William Arnold, Jack Jordan, Shane Denham, Simon Bailey, Lewis Marchant and Matt Simpson, who was also named for the 2012 Gold Coast tournament team.
``It was a real team effort from start to finish, including the fundraising. This was a lifetime experience and the team appreciated the opportunity given through the school,'' says William.