Chile is not particularly well known for its rugby, however if Craighouse School, Santiago, are anything to go by then Chilean rugby might well become a more familiar feature.
They took on Oakham School yesterday, beating the two time Schools Cup winners 46-0 in the process, a result that will have Brighton College, Canford, Bristol Grammar School, and Eastbourne College shuffling nervously as they await Craighouseâ€™s visit soon.
In truth, there should be little read into Oakhamâ€™s performance. They used what must have been close to over two teamâ€™s worth of players as they looked to give both 1st and 2nd XV squads some game time as they look towards the season ahead, starting with Stowe tomorrow.
With a couple of England U16 internationals in their 1st XV ranks, Matt Riddington and Jake Charters, Oakham undoubtedly have quality and at times it shone through.
A phalanx of Leicester Tigers scouts were in attendance, presumably to keep an eye on these two, but one has to wonder if perhaps by the end of the game they might have been thinking about a possible Chilean influx into the club, certainly there were a number of players within the Craighouse side that looked highly skilled. Particularly their openside, who played like a classic flanker in the Michael Jones style â€“ happy to do the dirty work but seconds later to be found out wide, distributing the ball expertly â€“ and their fly half, who controlled the game beautifully.
With seven tries to their name against such a prestigious school, despite Oakhamâ€™s changing line-up, it is hardly a surprise that there were some quality individuals, however the truth is that it was the collective that impressed.
Our knowledge of South American rugby here in the UK consists largely of watching Argentina play and our four-yearly viewing of Uruguay at Rugby World Cups. From that we have shaped the opinion that South American rugby is all about hard-nosed forwards, scrummaging, power, and size. Not an unreasonable view to be honest, even if the emergence of the likes of Juan Martin Hernandez has begun to alter that perception a touch.
That then was what this writer expected when turning up to watch Craighouse in action, however what actually emerged was something far more rounded. Yes they were hard, hard as nails â€“ their defence was spectacular and aggressive. Its organisation was impeccable, while their defence of the fringes was as good as it gets.
However with the ball they were a joy to watch, yes they could smash it up but they were also completely unafraid to chuck the ball around, commit the defence and to move it wide. Three of their scores started in their own half, that really tells you all that you need to know, even the famous Oakham touchline choir was unable to rouse itself.
It is not quite the humbling for Oakham that it looks though, as explained earlier; they used near enough to thirty players and the fifteen on the pitch were in a constant state of flux. The impression was that this game for them was about seeing lots of players in the 1st XV shirt and hoping to get as many players as possible to be comfortable with the style and pattern of Oakhamâ€™s play, so that later in the season when injuries strike, players from the 2nd XV can seamlessly step in.
Nevertheless, for Brighton, Canford, Bristol, and Eastbourne, a stern test awaits.
Final Score: Oakham 0-46 Criaghouse
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