5th Cheltenham Rugby festival proves great success
This fact alone was clear proof of a developing interest in the sport of Rugby League amongst the teachers and school children of Gloucestershire.
Martin Horwood, the Member of Parliament for Cheltenham, has attended the Rugby Festival every year since its inception in 2008. He was delighted with the tremendous growth in numbers and has no doubt that the Festival is now an integral part of the schools’ calendar:
He said: “I'm delighted to see Rugby League in Cheltenham go from strength to strength.
“The festival was a great success and it was good to see girls' teams taking part as well. We all know how important it is for healthy communities to encourage participation in sport and Rugby League is now making a major contribution to this in Cheltenham.”
The 1908 cup for boys was contested at 4 age groups namely years 7, 8, 9 and 10 and for the first time ever the Golden Fern cup for Gloucestershire schoolgirls was contested at years 7 and 9. Despite recent inclement weather the well appointed playing arena was bathed in sunshine for large portions of the day.
There were two outstanding finals at year 7 in both boys and girls with Churchdown taking the honours in both against St Peter’s of Gloucester. The girls’ final was a draw even after extra time but the trophy went to Churchdown based on their narrow victory earlier in the group game against the same opponents.
The roll of honour was as follows:
1908 cup winners - boys:
Year 7 – Churchdown
Year 8 – Chosen Hill
Year 9 – St Peter’s
Year 10 – Chosen Hill
Arthur Smith award winners (player of the tournament):
Year 7 – James Davies – St Peter’s
Year 8 – Chris Cooke – Chosen Hill
Year 9 – Zeb Vain – St Peter’s
Year 10- Morgan Botterill – Chosen Hill
Golden Fern cup winners – girls:
Year 7 – Churchdown
Year 9 – Ribston Hall
Empress award winners (player of the tournament):
Year 7 – Britney Webb - Churchdown
Year 9 – Harrie Davis – Ribston Hall
The special award for the outstanding school based on performance, commitment and sportsmanship was awarded to St Peter’s by Andrew Lindley, the Leeds Rhinos representative for Gloucestershire.
The cups and awards were presented by the mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Barbara Driver and the Rugby Football League’s National Schools’ officer, Halima Khan.
This was the mayor’s second Rugby League event of the year. The first one ended in unique circumstances when the University of Gloucestershire All Golds were close to a famous victory over Loughborough University at the Prince of Wales stadium before Christmas when an unfortunate, local power cut plunged the stadium into darkness causing the abandonment of the game.
It was therefore some relief to the mayor that matters unfolded to a successful conclusion, on this occasion, at the Cheltenham Rugby Festival:
“I take great interest in the well being of children in society and it was a great joy to me to witness the sheer fun and enjoyment that the youngsters got, both boys and girls, from playing the sport of Rugby League.
It struck me that it is a sport that is tailor made for children of all shapes and sizes to take part in.”
Cheryl Stennett, School Sports Network manager for Gloucester, was also present at the Festival and was especially impressed with the community development work carried out by students of the University of Gloucestershire:
“All the coaching and preparatory work in readiness for the tournament was carried out by students of the University of Gloucestershire.
“The feedback from teachers and children throughout the county has been one full of praise for the commitment, friendliness and professional attitude displayed by the students throughout.
“The passion and commitment shown by the students has made a big difference across the schools. We are particularly pleased with the large number of girls teams taking part. Well done to Ken Stone and his inspirational sports coaches and leaders.”
A special thank you to all those who made the event such a success and a particular mention for Barci the Nando’s mascot who delivered a healthy eating message to the participating schools.