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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
MORE than 1,500 youngsters representing 124 teams from 15 clubs competed at Henley Rugby Club’s Kids First and Juniors Festival on Sunday.
Players from U7s to U12s competed in matches that got under way at 10am and culminated at 2.30pm at a sun drenched Dry Leas.
The U12s contested pool matches before progressing to various finals whilst the remainder of the age groups competed in just pool matches throughout the day.
The day was only made possible due to a huge pool of parents and volunteers helping out as well as Henley Rotary Club who helped with car parking and traffic management.
Former England and Scottish players Olly Barkley and Mike Baxter ran a coaching clinic for the teams throughout the day and awarded players medals at the end of several of the competitions.
HENLEY U12s played their best rugby against some of the strongest opposition teams in the area. They started brightly with a 3-1 victory over Tring, with Sam Bailey and Oli Goforth starting strongly and providing much needed forward momentum for the team.
In the next game Henley were fortunate to earn a 1-1 draw against Amersham and Chiltern. Having given away too many penalties at the breakdown, they were saved by a fine individual try from Sam Winters late in the game.
Next up were eventual tournament winners Rosslyn Park, a team unbeaten for more than three years, but the Henley team played extremely well before losing 3-0 in an encouraging encounter where Seb Bourne and Will Corbett were outstanding in defence. In the final pool game, Henley beat Bancroft 8-0. Clever passing from Max Cranstoun and Charlie Ashford and a number of excellent breaks from Jonny Noctor, Lawrence Walker and Ben Palmer created some well worked tries.
Having finished second in their group, Henley went on to play Alton in the runners-up final where they played some scintillating rugby to run out 6-0 winners as they used the full width of the pitch and totally outplayed their opponents from Hampshire.
Ollie Johnson’s distribution at scrum-half was impressive while Ben Horner ran in a fine try from centre after patient build-up play and Hugo Donald scored two tries on the wing benefiting from the tireless forward play of Alfie Malcolm, Oscar Thomas and Ryan Evans who dominated their larger opponents at the breakdown.
Henley U11s fielded two well balanced sides, the HENLEY HARRIERS U11s and the HENLEY EAGLES U11s who took part in pools of seven, each playing five matches against strong opposition.
Both teams acquitted themselves well and enjoyed several wins alongside some narrow defeats with all players performing well throughout the tournament with searing runs, crunching tackles, strong rucking or classy offloads. The Henley Harriers were made up of Alex Clark, Charlie Rees, Edward Tong, Felix Richardson, Finn Walsh, Jack Bradbury, Jack Renders, James Waggett, Noah Mercer, Ollie Butler, Ollie Robinson, Rob Murdoch, Rory Cordingley, Seb Phillis, Will Masterson and Will Tavinor while the Henley Eagles consisted of Alastar Hall, Ben Chapman, Ben Salmon, Charlie Martin, Charlotte Tong, Dominic Pusey-Arsyad, Ethan Shuttleworth, Freddie Coultas, Henry French, Jacob Robinson, James Mennie, Leo Golledge, Luca Coleman, Lucas Edwards, Sam Snowden and Thomas Ferguson.
HENLEY U10s fielded 50 players in four teams. Playing against visiting teams from Amersham and Chiltern, Alton, Bancroft, Beaconsfield, Bracknell, Marlow, Old Albanians, Saracens, Tadley and Tring, the Henley sides showcased some of their fine skills and teamwork.
The introduction of new rucking and mauling skills at this age provided challenges and the players demonstrated adaptability and resilience throughout the day, running in some good tries.
The Henley U9 squad of more than 40 players made up four teams — HENLEY BUZZARDS U9s, HENLEY EAGLES U9s, HENLEY FALCONS U9s and HENLEY HARRIERS U9s.
All the Henley sides put in good performances throughout their five matches played. Some noticeable performances included stellar tackling from Barnaby Winters and Finn Robinson, strong running by Astrid Waite, Freddie Unwin and Ethan Massey and some of the newer members to the group, including Oliver Mezo and Fred Robinson, showing good aptitude and skills in learning the game. Henley Buzzards were made up of Thomas Allingham, Joshua Ashford, Ollie Eary, Rhys Herbert, Finn Johnson, Benjy Maggs, Max Mollison, Lorenzo Nicoletti, George Piercy, Oliver Thomas, Astrid Waite and Barnaby Winters, the Eagles Zach Astle, Arthur Bottomley, Alexander Bowater, George Dobson, Bear Gow, Oliver Mezo, Ethan Massey, Jude Price, Angus Smith, Charlie Unwin and Freddie Unwin, the Falcons Christian Bersella, Alexander Lamacraft, Jasper Goforth, Sam Jones, Charlie Myers, Rupert Pusey-Arsyad, Fred Robinson, Max Swinglehurst, Edward Tavinor, Matthew Tsoi and Charlie Wilks and Harriers Theo Berry, Archie Butlin, James Fox, Gabriel Islam, Jake Muskett, Charlie Nelmes, Sebastian Renwick-Forster, Rory Stewart, Cameron Thatcher and Oliver Walker.
Henley U8s entered four teams — HENLEY BUZZARDS U8s, HENLEY EAGLES U8s, HENLEY FALCONS U8s and HENLEY HARRIERS U8s in the festival with all teams delivering good running rugby.
The Henley Buzzards team was made up of Alex Bowater, Catherine Fuller, Charlie Craig, Harry Blackwell, Hattie Lyell, Kyuss Green, Boe Binham and William Askin, the Eagles team Alifie Huxtable, Bruce Cuzen, Ewan Jorgensen, Freddie Stallard, jack Clements, Jeremy Pickford, Oscar Garvin, Toby Young and Thomas Weatherby-Earl, the Falcons consisted Ben Stokes, Olly Barratt, Finley Lea, Harry Armstrong, Jack Tookey, Lee Christensen, Milo McGinn, William Strode and Noah Cotton while the Harriers were made up of Benji Rilett, Charlie Dix, Freddie Berioli-Smith, George Robinson, Joe Gilbert, Leo McKenna-Mayes, Jack Grant, Zac Marret and Luca Currie.
HENLEY U7s fielded a strong squad of 40 players and, inspired by the success of the Henley Hawks Women’s team, for the first time ever they were able to enter an all girl team. All player played with skill and energy, scoring lots of tries and embracing the TREDS (Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship) ethos throughout.
15 October 2018
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