Rugby League spreads in the North East
With 2012 set to be the year sport grips the nation it is Rugby League that is enthralling schools all across the North East.
South Shields Community College hosted the Year 7 and 9 Tyne and Wear finals of the world’s largest knockout Rugby League tournament on Tuesday January 10.
Organisers commended the record number of entering teams, evidence that the enthusiasm for Rugby League in the North East is growing.
Over fifty teams have entered the competition in the region alone. The stature of the tournament is increasing and once again the Year 7 National Final will be the curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August.
The Rugby League itself was of an exceptionally high standard, with all teams competing aggressively for the chance to face the Durham champions in the next round. “The matches were all fought competitively and in good spirit,” commented referee Nicky Beaty.
In the Year 9 competition individuals such as Logan Powell from Sandhill View, usually a footballer, shone, showing power and speed. Kenjoe Zadjo from Kenton School also caught the eye with a blistering long distance try against Sandhill View.
Eventually it was the always impressive Whitley Bay High that won the Year 9 tournament and they will be confident of victory in the next stage against Durham’s finest.
However it was in the Year 7 competition that the real drama unfolded. With moments left in the final matches of the group stage Whitburn were trailing Whytrig by one try and apparently heading out of the competition.
With the last play of the game Whitburn were able to score a sensational team try and cling on to their hopes of being crowned Tyne and Wear champions. Tom Allen (Whytrig) was awarded player of the tournament for his powerful running, while Whitburn went on to win the competition showing the true value of team work in the game of Rugby League.
Following on from Tuesday’s highly successful Year 7 and 9 rounds, it was the Year 8 and 10s turn to compete for the chance to take on the best Durham has to offer. Once again, South Shields Community college provided their fantastic facilities.
Mirroring Tuesday, attendance at the event was beyond expectation with busloads of eager Rugby players swarming onto the lush playing fields. Event organiser Lee Carbutt praised the coaches and players alike for their ‘enthusiasm and support for the tournament’ which plays a major role in developing Rugby League at a grass roots level in England.
The Year 8 competition saw Kenton school overcome Joseph Swann in a thrilling semi-final. They would go on to face the much fancied Burnside school who fielded a considerably larger side.
The final was a well fought affair; Kenton led through a breakaway try from one of their speedsters. But Burnside showed deft handling skills that defied their physical approach, winning 6 tries to 3.
Whitley Bay who impressed in the earlier rounds of the tournament were once again the team to beat in Year 10. Fielding some exciting talent from their Year 9 side, including Luka Molic and Conor Stewart, the favourites stormed into the final, where they would face the ever improving Astley School.
Despite a stunning try from Astley’s Jordan Yoemans and a spirited performance from player of the tournament Jack Williams, Whitley Bay High sneaked the victory 2 tries to 1 and advance to the next stage. As the Astley head coach wished her victorious counterpart ‘good luck’ the success of the day was clear to see.
The Regional Finals of the Champion Schools will take place on Tuesday 7th and Thursday 9th February at Peterlee and Gateshead respectively.
For details on how to enter the Champion Schools tournament please contact Jade Mackie, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07595520178.