Youth rugby season starts with a bang

THE youth rugby season started with a bang on Sunday with an extravaganza of a sevens event at the Royal Hospital School.

Stuart Watson

THE youth rugby season started with a bang on Sunday with an extravaganza of a sevens event at the Royal Hospital School.

A massive 57 sides from 12 different Suffolk and Essex rugby clubs converged on the vast playing fields of the Holbrook-based school to battle it out across five different age groups.

It made for a spectacular sight, with over 600 boys providing constant action across nine pitches from ten in the morning to four in the afternoon.

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Colchester - one of the biggest and best established clubs in the region - reigned supreme on the day, winning all five trophies, however, the day proved just as successful for a number of the smaller clubs.

Suffolk Youth Rugby Chairman and tournament organiser Ross Cowie said: “This is an event where the small format allows the smaller clubs such as Haverhill, Hadleigh, Harwich, Clacton, Southwold and Stowmarket, all of whom have started youth sections in recent years and who sometimes struggle to field 15 boys at an age group, to compete with the established and very large clubs such as Colchester and Bury St Edmunds.

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“While Colchester may have won all the trophies, I was delighted to see teams like Stowmarket, Clacton and Southwold win Plates and Shields.”

The ever-popular event has grown every year since its launch in 2006. After an entry of 30 teams in first year, 2007 saw a growth to 40, while this year numbers have grown to 57 - the maximum the RHS could hold as a venue.

“It reflects the development of youth rugby in the region,” said Cowie. “The fact that the smaller clubs are now able to take part shows the increased effort that clubs are making in developing their youth sections.”

The tournament was split into five age categories, from Under-13s all the way up to U17s, and saw teams initially play each other on a round-robin basis.

On the basis of the mini league standings, sides then progressed forward to contest for the Trophy, Plate or, in some age groups, a Shield.

Reflecting on the seven-a-side format, Cowie added: “Not only does it allow the smaller clubs a greater opportunity to get a side out, but it also enables youngsters the time and space to express their skills more.

“It is an ideal warm-up tournament ahead of the full season.”

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