On Monday 3rd December I took the Year 7 boys Rugby team to St Peters school for the annual East Devon Rugby Festival. The 13 strong squad arrived in buoyant mood after a 20-20 draw at a strong Clyst Vale outfit the previous week. St James were strengthened by the return of skipper Jacob Hay-Laing, who terrorised defences all day with his explosive running and try scoring feats. St James began the day in a pool alongside Sidmouth and local rivals Isca and St Lukes. The first game finished with a narrow 10-5 loss against Sidmouth, with the players looking a bit rusty. Once they grown in confidence, the second and third games resulted in emphatic wins over Isca and At Luke’s, with Hay-Laing stealing the show with 9 tries to his name in just three games. Ruben Bates nipped in for a couple too, showing good pace and elusive running. These results ensured St James topped the pool, and under the new RFU guidelines, rather than progressing into a quarter-final/semi-final scenario, the top teams from each pool would progress into a secondary pool completion to decide the overall winner. St James were placed with QECC, Clyst Vale and Honiton. The other pools featured school such as St Peter’s, Uffculmbe and Exmouth, so it was a real feat to secure a place in the top pool. The first of the final round of games was a tense encounter against QECC. Hard running and good handling by Seth Sharland and Ayden Bowen helped St James into an early lead but the opposition fought back, and only some heroic defensive efforts from Kane Holcombe and Billy Talbot kept them at bay. The defence did eventually crack, and the players were bitterly disappointed to lose 10-5. Next up was Clyst Vale, and a thrilling 15-15 draw against a the team would be eventually be the overall winners was a fine effort. Strong tackling from Caleb Hizzet, Max Idylk and the pace of Luke Greenslade proved too much for Clyst Vale and we raced into a 10-0 lead. The opposition showed their class with three successive scores and it was a real team effort to scouter the equaliser in the dying moments. Will Walker secured a good turn over and Luke Daysh continued the move which gave Hay-Laing the space to burst clear and secure the draw. Last up was a game against Honiton. Some slick handling from Lucas Hackworthy allowed the irrepressible Hay-Laing to add to his growing tally with two more tries. Bates dotted down for another before Hay-Laing had the final say and completed his third hat trick of the day. This win ensured St James finished third overall out of thirteen school, a great achievement built on hard work and dedication to training. Well done to all involved! Mr Chalmers.