Super Series 3 – Write up
Last weekend (2nd/3rdApril) concluded the Super Series season, the third and final event was jam packed with action. On the Saturday each team played three pool games, our LondonWRC teams were pooled separately so no all London match up. Storm surged through their first game against Gaelic Warriors with a comfortable win.
Crusaders first game was a different scenario all together. Cru arrived with only four players meaning any injuries would condemn us to forfeit. Yeah you guessed it, after the first quarter against Crash it was clear our 2 pointer was suffering with the inhibiting dysreflexia issues that many of us are familiar with. Although he tried to push through, it simply became time to call it. A quick and decisive solution meant we'd forfeit this match but to play on our Chairman/Coach/Player rolled over to the Crash bench, called over their Coach/Player and had a chat with the officials. Within a few minutes everything was accepted and understood. Alan Ash, a 2 pointer from Crash, the team we were currently playing, casually stripped off his jersey and adopted a London Crusaders kit, with a couple of comedic lines... funny guy. You see, although we forfeited this game along with the other Saturday pool games, I for one and I'm sure all the players just wanted to continue doing what we do, wheelchair rugby. So we finished the first game with a guest Crusader, cheers Ashy.
Plan b for the remaining pool games, nope... more like a caped Crusader. A friend of the club who has competed with us in the past and is currently doing amazing work with GBWR helping to promote the sport. Well he was our mechanic for this tournament, but what made him our caped crusader was that he's a 4 pointer, a classification that's recognized domestically. We'd already had to forfeit the pool games as we thought it best to rest our 2 pointer and see if he would be fit for the Sunday crossover and position games. Our aim for the tournament being to finish 7th saving us from immediate relegation. Putting Luke our mechanic/4pointer on with the three remaining players meant our line-up would total eight point five, half a point over the ruling. But again, as always, we were allowed to do what we do and that was play some awesome wheelchair rugby. The remaining two pool games for Crusaders were just that, close calls but a win just wasn't on the cards. I'd just like to thank GBWR for letting us continue to play, with nothing to loss it was opportunity to mentally relax while continuing to physically push hard and work on team-play. Also a personal huge thank you to Luke who hasn't competed at all in over three years and barely attended a training session. Although this dude is out-classified internationally he can't step away from the sport, enough to have his rugby chair sat in his car 'just because'. Cheers Luke!
Across to the other pool and Storm had another comfortable victory over Solent Sharks. It was a harder fought battle against Marauders but by the buzzer Storm fought to lead by 3. So going into Sunday it was a continuation of the seasons tale, Storm going for the streak and Crusaders fighting to evade relegation.
With Crusaders back to their original line-up the crossover game was against the Sharks. This game was an opportunity to get refocused. We slightly pulled ahead but couldn't retain the lead as the Sharks slowly but confidently swam away from us and won by 6. Next up was the game for 7th/8th against Gaelic Warriors that would decide if Crusaders positivity would secure us those positions for the season. Again we pushed ahead at the beginning but the Warriors were exactly that. They stay composed and competitive until the final buzzer, working as a team throughout. In a fantastic display of wheelchair rugby they beat us by eight. Meaning next seasons Crusade will be in Division 2.
Under pressure Storm raged in a surprising crossover against Crash, the fast but controlled pace of both teams was a good representation of the tactics involved in this complex sport. The lead changed a few times and Storm held their nerve to win by five continuing their undefeated streak all the way to the final. The victory against Crash insured the title of Super Series Champions but knowing these athletes I was positive they wanted the undefeated title just as bad. The final was against Leicester Tigers who'd been impressive the whole weekend. It was a fast paced, high intensity game that was defiantly worth spectating. There was a few sketchy moments throughout but by the end of third quarter it was apparent Storm would secure the victory and did so by nine. Congratulations to our Undefeated Super Series Champions, Storm! You can see the results of the Super Series along with who won best in class here.
What's next? That'll be the BT National Champions on the 23rd/24th of April, just over two weeks away! Storm will be competing for the Cup and Crusaders for the Shield as the top two divisions attend the same event. I for one can't wait to see that many domestic teams from all around, together in a spectacle of our sport. We'll hopefully see you there!