Kirkham Grammar old boy Bibby goes for gold
Kirkham Grammar Schools students old and new will have their eyes glued to the tv sets on Thursday evening as Dan Bibby and his Great Britain rugby union team-mates go for gold.
They and millions of other viewers around the world will be tuning in to see if Great Britain’s exciting run in the sevens tournament can continue to the ultimate achievement now they are in the last four.
The man that got them there was former Kirkham Grammar School student Bibby.
He saw to it that GB claimed a dramatic sudden death victory over Argentina at the Deodoro Stadium to book a place in the semi-finals.
Bibby struck with a try near the end of five minutes’ extra-time to put Britain through 5-0.
Skipper Tom Mitchell saw a penalty kick at goal bounce back off a post just seconds earlier, but Britain kept their composure amid intense pressure.
They will play South Africa in Thursday’s second semi-final - the South Africans knocked out Australia 22-5 - with tournament favourites Fiji, who were 12-7 conquerors of New Zealand, meeting surprise package Japan in the other.
Britain won Pool C with a 100 per cent record, completing the group phase with a 21-19 win against New Zealand thanks to tries from Mark Bernnett, James Davies and Dan Norton, before a New Zealand comeback from 21 points adrift was ultimately repelled.
And the Argentina clash proved just as nerve-shredding
Former Fylde fly-half Bibby, though, was the hero, touching down after making a gliding break, to spark scenes of wild celebration.
Joining in the celebrations back home was Aled Trenhaile, the head of rugby at Kirkham Grammar, who first coached Bibby as a 16-year-old.
Trenhaile said that Bibby had paid the school the ultimate compliment by saying that but for what he had learned there as a youngster he would not have been on the plane to Rio in the first place and carved a successful sevens career at international level.
Aspull-born Bibby started off as a Lancashire B player when he first came to Kirkham Grammar and blossomed into the finished article.
Trenhaile added: “I am over the moon to see how well Dan has done.
“He is a very intelligent player as well as being individualistic.
“I was watching the match with Argentina and just hoping he would get into a one-and-one situation because that is where his strength and determination shows.
“He was part of the Kirkham team that won the Fylde sevens in 2007 and 2009 and got to the final of the Rosslyn Park sevens in 2009.
“Dan often comes back to Kirkham to help out with coaching some of the young players.
“In fact, we were once playing in a tournament in London and he made a point of coming away from a session with the Great Britain team to speak to the players.
“I can ring to help out and he always does.”
The winners of the respective semis will play a decider for the gold and silver on Thursday evening.
There will be a play-off for the bronze medal between the losing semi-finalists.
England’s semi-final against South Africa starts at 7pm.
The bronze medal match is at 10.30pm and the gold medal match at 11pm.