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The candidate was awarded 10 marks for this broadly creative piece of writing: Happiness is Egg Shaped.


This is a broadly creative piece in the form of a personal/reflective essay on the candidate’s experiences of playing, and then losing the ability to play, rugby. The essay describes their early excitement when learning to play at their first club, the accident that cost them their dream and the enduring power of the game to inspire, now as a supporter of the national team.


The opening paragraph establishes a humorous tone and a clear sense of the writer’s personality, through the idea of a Martian’s view of rugby. This device enables the candidate comically to raise questions which a human new to the game might ask, for example, ‘Why do they go backwards to go forwards?’ and to introduce the serious, central theme of the essay: ‘why I love rugby’.

The essay then focuses on a specific event, the candidate’s first experience of joining a team. There is a clear sense of involvement and of the writer’s personality throughout this section. The reader is plunged into the ‘sheer happiness and sense of belonging’ on the way home from the first training session, and we then go back over the memories ‘still engrained in my mind like initials carved on a tree’. Descriptive details evoke an atmosphere of excitement, for example, ‘The lights were glaring, the grass was glimmering and it was a crisp dark winter’s night’. The anticipation builds with ‘laughter and sporadic shouts’ and a ‘mass of red and black strips swarming round the pitch’. The candidate continues to explore their feelings and reactions, which helps create a sense of involvement: ‘I could feel eyes locking onto me, staring me down’, ‘I started to question why I had come’ and ‘I was hurtled backwards onto the clammy ground’. The tackle, rather than deterring, encourages the candidate, as they comment: ‘from that moment I knew this was my sport’.

The piece goes on to comment adequately on their longer-term enthusiasm for rugby and the years of involvement, leading up to the injury that ended their career as a player. The candidate explores this devastating experience through a sequence of moments which clearly chart the accident and their awareness that they would not play again: ‘Everything was going so well until the day of the accident…’, ‘It wasn’t even rugby related, that’s the most frustrating part’, ‘One thought went through my head when the sudden realisation hit me that I had dislocated my shoulder’ and ‘I was right’. There is a clear sense of self-awareness which continues in the description of their new role in the team: ‘they call me the water boy but that’s ok because they are my mates and the teasing makes it more bearable’.

There is a slightly abrupt shift of focus to the experience of spectating at an international match. The description creates a clear sense of involvement, ‘roaring crowd falls silent…pipes blast into action’, although there is some more adequate description of feelings, ‘it puts a smile upon my face and many others in the hope that your home team will come out on top’. Some of the reflection here is adequate rather than clear: ‘Sometimes they win sometimes they lose but on the odd occasion that they are victorious it’s a special memory that stays with you for a lifetime’.

The piece concludes by returning to the Martian motif as the candidate references the title and comments humorously on the probable reaction of a Martian to rugby: ‘an ovate ball adds to the excitement due to its unpredictability…they’d come to the realisation that they have experienced the best sport in the world, or even the universe’.


In terms of style, the piece demonstrates linguistic features which create impact, mostly clear expression and clear structure which enhances meaning. The focus on feelings and reactions enables the candidate to explore experiences such as the first training session and the accident with a clear sense of involvement and personality. The use of features such as descriptive language and present tense, for example in building up the tension in the international match, combine to create impact. In places, the description and reflection seem more adequate than clear.

The structural device of framing the memories with comments on how a Martian would view the game provides a humorous opening and conclusion, while the main body of the essay clearly charts the candidate’s experiences with rugby. The move from personal experience to describing an international match is a little abrupt.


The piece is placed in 12-10 range. For the most part, feelings and experiences are explored with a clear sense of involvement and the writer’s enthusiasm and wit come across clearly, through most of the piece. Due to the occasional movement into adequate range rather than clear, it was awarded 10 marks.