School rugby players have a ball at tag festival

Belper Rugby Club welcomed over 150 players, plus teachers and parents, to their annual Tag Rugby Festival, where 15 teams of boys and girls aged 9–10, from 12 local primary schools, competed for the Boxall, Brown and Jones Shield.

In an exciting match, eventual winners Duffield Meadows fought off a determined challenge from Swanwick Primary School. St John’s School from Belper, took third place.

Belper tag rugby festival: Belper Meadows (blue) v Mundy Junior school.

Belper tag rugby festival: Belper Meadows (blue) v Mundy Junior school.

Swanwick and Duffield will progress through to the Derbyshires Schools final.

This annual event is becoming a family tradition for some. Sam Rice (ten) from Belper, whose brother Joseph played at the festival two years ago, said “Today was great fun. I watched my brother play here and wanted to join in then. I will be coming back to play again next year”.

The event was organised and run by a team of Belper RUFC Youth Volunteers aged 15-21. On the day, they supervised car parking, provided refreshments, arranged first aid cover, refereed and scored the matches.

A number of them have been visiting local schools to provide coaching sessions and to encourage new players into the game.

Fletcher Smith, one of the youth volunteers said: “After all our hard work pulling this together, it was great to see so many kids playing and enjoying rugby.”

Phil Basterfield, partnership development manager at Amber Valley School Sport Partnership, said: “Big thanks to Belper RUFC and the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The tag festival was a really good spectacle and a great example of how school sport should operate.”

As part of an initiative to develop talented players, Belper RUFC, Amber Valley School Sports Partnership and the RFU have asked teachers from each of the schools to identify young players new to rugby. These ‘gifted and talented’ players will be invited to Belper RUFC at the end of May to a day-long coaching session with RFU and club coaches where they can learn more about the game.

“We want to encourage as many new players into the game as possible. Each year we have new players joining the juniors section of the club which is thriving,” said Merv Holmes, director of Minis and Juniors Rugby at Belper RUFC.

“We are running the week-long ‘Rugby Summer Camp’ at the club again this year, which is open to all boys and girls aged between 6–16 years”.

From July 29, rugby coaches from New Zealand will spend a week at Belper Rugby Club passing on the latest rugby coaching techniques from the Southern Hemisphere, also introducing the players to the multinational aspect of the game, e.g. teaching the ‘Haka’.

The Youth Volunteers will be working alongside the guest coaches and managing the event throughout the week.

For more information about the Summer Camp at Belper RUFC, go to clubs/belper/ or for playing enquiries contact Chris on 07717 690188

Participating schools were:

Kilburn Juniors x 2, Herbert Strutt, Pottery, Swanwick, Loscoe, Duffield Meadows x 3, St John’s Belper, Mundy, Horsley Woodhouse, Howitt Primary, Crich Junior, Morley