THE FUTURE of rugby in the Chichester area looks as bright as the sun that shone on the city’s big youth festival at Oaklands Park.
Conditions couldn’t have been better for Chichester RFC’s annual ‘Done by Two’ rugby tournament.
More than 850 young players, coached and supported by 1,000 adults, from teams across West Sussex and Hampshire descended upon the park - and there wasn’t a patch of grass left to be seen.
Organiser Ben Bulpett said: “It was a great sight to see so many young people enjoying themselves and participating in this fun festival. The aim of the festival is to be finished by 2pm, which was nearly achieved apart from the under-11s and under-12s, who had a few finals running slightly over.
“Teams came from Haywards Heath, Fareham, Portsmouth, Winchester, Havant, Pulborough, Worthing, Horsham, Bognor and Chichester with teams from under-sevens to under-12s.”
The festival is based upon a pool system with the winner of each pool going on to the final. Teams at under-seven and under-eight were allowed to enter more than one team, while the under-11 and under-12 pools were spilt between Hampshire and Sussex teams, with the winner of each pool declared the winner.
As the hosts, Chichester entered multiple teams at each age group.
Bulpett said: “The skill level shown by the children was outstanding, with players sidestepping and jinking their way to score. The tackling was ferocious with some of the games seeing only one try scored, which shows a strong defence.”
The festival was sponsored by Rathbones, who provided gifts for the winners. Greg Mahon, managing director of the Chichester office, attended to watch.
Local teams did exceptionally well and congratulations goes to all the Chichester teams for representing the city with such pride and passion.
Chichester’s under-11s won their fourth trophy of the year at the festival. It followed victories in the Petersfield Festival, Midhurst Cup and Vectis Festival earlier in the year.
Chichester A were playing in the Sussex rules division against Worthing, Bognor, Haywards Heath, Pulborough and Horsham.
First opponents were Worthing and from kick-off, Chichester dominated the play with great tackling and superb running and passing in attack. A solid 2-0 victory got their competition started.
Against Pulborough, Chichester again flew straight into attack with lovely running and passing, dominating from the start to finish 3-0 winners.
Bognor were next and this was a physical game with the forwards doing most of the work. Barring a few Bognor kicks upfield, Chichester kept Bognor in their own half for most of the game and after numerous wasted chances, Chichester broke through and scored to win 1-0. Against Haywards Heath, confidence was high and Chi ran in three tries to win 3-0.
Horsham were Chichester’s final opponents and the boys ended as they had begun, with a great mix of superb tackling, lovely passing and strong running earning another 3-0 success.
As the only unbeaten team of the under-11s’ tournament, with no tries conceded and 12 scored, Chichester were delighted to lift the trophy, to the delight of coaches Gavin Young and Tristram Mayhew.
Meanwhile, just a week after winning the Haywards Heath mini and junior festival, Chichester’s under-12s prospered at the Oaklands event.
In the Sussex rules division, Chichester under-12 A beat Worthing 2-0, Pulborough 5-0, Bognor 6-0 and Horsham, the only other undefeated side, 3-0 to take the trophy.
Chichester A have played nine matches this season and not conceded a single try.
In the Hampshire rules division, a second Chichester under-12 side competed. They beat Portsmouth 3-0 and 5-0, Fareham Heathens 3-0 and 2-0 and Winchester 3-0 after a 1-1 draw to win the section - and that was playing by rules they are not used to following.
Steve Potter, Chichester under-12s head coach, said: “We were very proud of all of our players who showed the rest of Sussex and Hampshire what a great team we are. It was great to see how all our players supported each other, respected the referees and played with obvious enjoyment of the game. Winning both trophies really was the icing on the cake.”
Bognor’s under-11s beat four of the five teams they met at the Done by Two festival.
With a brilliant display of team effort and ability they beat Horsham 1-0, Pulborough 1-0, Worthing 2-1 and Haywards Heath 6-1. Their only loss was a narrow one by a single try to hosts and age-group winners Chichester.
They came away jubilant with their runners-up medals and ready for tonight’s meeting at Hawthorn Road with a New Zealand touring side, Tamaki Rugby Academy.
Chichester RFC thanked all sponsors who made generous donations to the club and the helpers and parents who gave up their Sunday morning to make the event such a great success.
The festival is an annual event and if any company or individual would like to get involved next year please let the club know.
Winners and runners-up: U7A Pool Joint Winners - Haywards Heath A and Worthing A; U7B Pool Winners – Haywards Heath B, Runners Up – Pulborough B; U8A Pool Winners – Chichester A, Runners Up – Pulborough A; U8B Pool Winners – Havant A, Runners Up – Horsham B; U9
Winners – Haywards Heath A, Runners Up – Chichester B; U10 Winners – Chichester A, Runners Up – Horsham; U11 Hampshire Pool Winners – Portsmouth, Sussex Pool Winners – Chichester A; U12 Hampshire Pool Winners – Chichester A, Sussex Pool Winners – Chichester B.