Cheltenham celebrates sporting achievement
More than 600 children from across the county took part in the Cheltenham Rugby Festival, with the popular 9-a-side Rugby League event now in its 6th year.
Last Thursday (May 9) schools from Gloucestershire competed for a variety of awards in a celebration of Rugby League and children’s sporting achievement.
Event manager Victoria McCreevey said: “It was a privilege to meet so many outstanding children and schools and to get to watch a high standard of Rugby League being played. It is something that all the participating schools should be proud of.”
Mike Stewart, captain of the University of Gloucestershire All Golds added: “It was a day that the children will never forget. They loved the intensity and physicality of Rugby League and it was great to see the sport being played to such a high standard in the county.”
The Rugby Football League also had words of praise for the event. Andrew Lindley, who is club support officer, said: “It was a wonderful festival of Rugby League. I’ve no doubt that from the 600 taking part today, there will surely emerge future stars of the game. It’s brilliant to see the community programme flourishing like this.”
St Peter’s Roman Catholic High School emerged victorious in their quest for the 1908 cup in Year 7 and 10, with Cheltenham Bournside School, and Chosen Hill School claiming the Year 8 and 9 trophies respectively. The trophy commemorates the Great Match of 1908, when New Zealand All Golds defeated Great Britain 8-5 in Cheltenham to win Rugby League's first ever deciding international.
Ribston Hall High School for Girls retained the Golden Fern Cup for Year 9. The Golden Fern symbol has been adopted by the successful University of Gloucestershire's Rugby League team, the All Golds.
The Arthur Smith Award winners for the player of the tournament in each of the 1908 categories were as follows:
- Year 7 - Max Rendell – Tewkesbury School
- Year 8 - Jacob Morris – Cheltenham Bournside School
- Year 9 – Chris Cook – Chosen Hill School
- Year 10 – Dewi Wilcox – St Peter’s Roman Catholic High School
The Empress Award winners for the player of the tournament in the Golden Fern Cup were as follows:
- Year 9 – Freya Jones – Ribston Hall; Catherine Taylor - Chosen Hill School
One of Gloucester rugby's great heroes was Lesley Vainikolo. There is an award in his name and it is presented to the school that displays the best sportsmanship, enthusiasm and conduct. Lesley was a great Kiwi Rugby League international, and played for Gloucester Rugby. St Peter’s were the winners of this trophy.
A new award introduced this year was the William Holder Award for the outstanding teacher which was presented to Mr Thompson from Pate’s Grammar School. Holder played for Gloucester Rugby Union and Hull FC at Rugby League. He starred for Great Britain in the 1908 match and according to the Echo at the time he was "the best on the day for the Northern Union". Great Britain was known by this name at that time.
All the trophies and awards were presented by the following dignitaries:
Cheltenham Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood, the Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Colin Hay, the Police Commissioner Martin Surl and Kevan Blackadder, Editor of The Gloucestershire Echo. Also in attendance was Kim Chang, Head of Business Development at Bristol UWE, Dan Derrick and Cheryl Stennett School Sport Network Manager, and Craig Mortiboys Healthy Communities Partnership Manager for Cheltenham Borough Council.
It is hoped the event will continue to flourish, with exciting plans already in place for next year. Lionel Hurst, who is the festival founder, said: “We’ve had calls from schools across the country and Europe asking to take part which is brilliant. However, we’d like to know what current participants thoughts are on this potential expansion, along with any feedback on improving other aspects of the festival.”