b'THE ELLESMERIAN 91Rugby - 1st XVAfter two years without competitive rugby, the aspiration for the 1stUnfortunately, due to the number of injuries sustained in the Old XV was to simply to go out and play. There was a high emphasis onSwinford game, Ellesmere had to bow out of their cup run. Due to enjoyment as everyone involved was able to appreciate just how luckybeing unable to field a side in the first round of the competition, the they were to be the ones to kick-start rugby at Ellesmere College.rules stipulated that we could not take part in any other competition Due to Covid-19 the squad were unable to attend their usual pre- that season. season training camp in Cardiff. When combined with a two year lay-off from competitive rugby, the team felt a little under prepared andFollowing this tough start, the Ellesmere 1st XV were able to recover Ellesmere had to work hard in training to get back up to speed.and were soon able to apply some of the harsh lessons that had been However, it was soon evident that most other schools werelearnt. They produced some excellent performances against the likes of encountering the same problems. Adams Grammar, Caldy Grammar, and Bishop Veseys School. England Under 18 international, Harvey Cuckson, led from the front and The first game of the season was away against Wilmslow School, whoensured that his team were always on the front foot.were also feeling the effects of a long lay-off. The game was used as a development opportunity with the game carved up into thirds.There was a good balance between the back line and the pack this Ellesmere took a large squad and used the opportunity to try aseason. Although the forwards were a particularly sizeable group, they number of combinations. At one-point the visitors fielded an entiredisplayed some excellent handling skills which, when combined with Under 17 side in a bid to give boys game time. Ellesmere ran out astheir physicality, wreaked havoc on their opponents. The back line, led comfortable winners. by Captain and Fullback Ben Zakers, were one of the quickest the College had produced in a number of years.This combination led to A particularly memorable game was the game against Old Swinfordan exciting attacking team.Hospital. The Stourbridge school have always provided a great test for Ellesmere with both sides enjoying the spoils over the years. This gameIt was clear that the effects of the pandemic were never far away. would be remembered for a number of reasons. One of them beingUnfortunately, a number of fixtures were cancelled over the course of the referee having to retire after fifteen minutes to be replaced by thethe season due to opposition schools losing players due to illness or home Master of Rugby. Another reason was for the number of injuriesisolation. However, it was a huge positive to see rugby being played that Ellesmere suffered on that particular day, which also included threeagain at Ellesmere College. The aims and objectives at the start of the concussions. However, it was the way that Ellesmere managed toseason were enjoyment, participation, and improvement, and all three capitulate in the final twenty minutes to throw away a comfortablewere certainly met. lead. Some harsh lessons were learnt.AJM'