THOSE who braved the cold weather on Sunday at Oaklands Park were rewarded by a feast of fine junior rugby.
Chichester RFC hosted the county mini rugby festival for the clubs in West Sussex – Midhurst, Pulborough, Worthing, Bognor and Chichester. It was for age groups from under-seven to under-12 with teams looking to win a place in the county final being played on April 12.
There was no rain and the overall playing conditions were perfect for great running rugby. More than 500 children descended on Oaklands Park for a full day of rugby.
There was not a blade of grass not devoted to rugby. It was a great sight to see so many young people participating.
The festival is one of the most prestigious of the season and Chichester were delighted to be asked to host the event and show off the club development progress.
With the adoption of the new rules for mini rugby, this year teams were encouraged to enter A and B sides so as to give as many youngsters a chance to experience the festival.
There was not a blade of grass not devoted to rugby
The event is based on a pool system with the winners going on to contest the final and be crowned regional champions.
Sussex RFU was represented by Gavin Ross, honorary treasurer, who attended the whole day and presented the trophies and medals, along with Dennis Phillips, Chichester RFC mini and junior president.
The skill level shown by the children was outstanding with players’ sidestepping and jinking their way to scores.
The tackling was ferocious with some of the games seeing only one try scored, which clearly shows a strong defence in the teams.
Winners and runners-up:
U7 Pool Winners – Bognor A; Runners Up – Worthing B; U8 Pool Winners – Chichester A; Runners Up – Pulborough B; U9 Winners – Chichester B; Runners Up – Worthing A; U10 Winners – Chichester A; Runners Up – Pulborough A; U11 Winners – Chichester; Runners Up – Worthing; U12 Winners – Chichester; Runners Up – Pulborough.
Local boys did exceptionally well and congratulations go to all the Chichester teams for representing the city with such pride and passion. Chichester RFC also won the fair play award which is awarded to the club whose teams and spectators have shown the best attitude, support and all-round good sportsmanship, which is a great testament to the club and it approach to encouraging rugby in the local community.
Chichester RFC would like to thank all its sponsors who made generous donations towards the club and the helpers and parents who gave up their Sunday mornings to make the event such a great success.
Good luck goes to those teams going on to contest the final on April 12 at Crowborough RFC.
- BEN BULPETT
See the Observer next week (March 26) for news and pictures on some of the Chichester teams who did well
Bognor’s under-seven squads treated their mums’ to an extra-special Mothers’ Day at the Chichester tournament.
Both squads put on a terrific display of their skills at the West Sussex West festival and the A squad won a thrilling final to clinch the title after winning five matchs in a row.
The squad, comprising Louis Wheelhouse, Conor Stretch, Cassian Clarke, Adam Halligan, George Joyce, and Archie Wood will now travel to Horsham on April 12 for the Sussex county finals.
Proud under-sevens coaches Darren Wheelhouse and Steve Page are hoping for further glory from their young team of rugby stars.
Bognor’s A and B teams competed against Chichester, Pulborough, Worthing and Midhurst during the tournament.
The Bs (Lorcan Wilson, Owen Page, Nicky Cook, Patrick Young, Jacob Chadwick, Daniel Cowley and Kacper Dziegielewski) started well winning 6-4 against Chichester. They drew 7-7 with Midhurst 7-7, but lost 9-7 to Pulborough and 8-3 against Worthing.
Bognor A were unstoppable, winning 7-6 against Chichester, then 6-5 against Midhurst and 10-9 against Worthing A.
One match from the final, they faced Pulborough, who had narrowly beaten them in the Chi Done by 2 tournament at the beginning of the season.
It was 3-3 at the break before Bognor displayed some excellent tagging in the second half, running in two further tries, making the final score 5-3.
The final saw Bognor A pitted against Worthing B and at half-time it was 4-4.
There was drama in the opening minutes of the second half when Bognor thought they had an early try, when in fact they had stopped just short of the line and Worthing picked up the ball and ran straight up the other end and score.
Bognor stepped up their game, taking a two-try lead in the last 30 seconds. The last play saw Worthing get one more try, but it was too late, Bognor winning 8-7 and securing a place in the county final.