Cents’ mini sides make big impact on debut

Both the U7s and U9s make festival semi finals in first appearance

RUGBY LEAGUE: ST ALBANS Centurions’ minis section took a step into the unknown on Saturday when they entered their first festival at Brentwood, one of a series of such events to be held across the region through the summer months.

The minis section, which is only in its infancy, has seen a fantastic level of interest which enabled the club to run sides at both U7 and U9 age groups in the Essex tournament.

At the U7s age group, minis festival rugby is all about having fun and developing an understanding of the game with the refereeing being tolerant and on field coaching to the fore.

The core rules of rugby league, play the ball and the six ‘tag’ rule apply, but the emphasis is more on the children getting used to the basics of the game in safe surroundings.

The Centurions pitted their skills against teams from Medway, Brixton, Hemel, Brentwood and Guildford in the pool stages and after scoring some memorable tries, they did well enough to qualify for the semi finals, where they played Elmbridge Eagles.

With the score at 2-2 on full time, the hard fought battle went into golden point extra time, and despite the Centurions’ best efforts they were beaten by a long range Eagles effort, with the Eagles going on to win the tournament outright.

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Squad: Charlie Battle, Huw Dawson, Ben Dormer, Astrid Koppe, Shaun Labuda, Gaby McGlenn, Paige Miller, Luke Roberts, Finlay Tetlow.

At the U9s age group the game is played at nine-a-side, with basic rugby league rules and contact as opposed to tag.

Many of the Centurions squad had played rugby league before, but other who took part on the day had come from football or non-sporting environments and this was their first experience of rugby of any sort.

As with the U7s, the U9s were involved in pool games, beating both Staines and Medway but losing to eventual tournament champions Brentwood Elvers.

In the semi-final the Cents came up against a big but mobile Croydon side who had previously not conceded any tries in the tournament, but despite a valiant effort by the Centurions they ended up losing despite having the satisfaction of being the first team to cross the South London side’s try line.

The children will now be confident that come the Mighty Quins festival in July, they will be better equipped to compete with the more experienced opposition.

Speaking after the festival, minis organiser Gary Tetlow said: “To think that Centurions only wanted to dip their toe in the water this year at minis level, but to see the fantastic levels of interest so far is absolutely thrilling.

“The U7s were made up of six boys and three girls and because of the format of the game all of them were able to shine, and they did! I was proud as punch with their efforts.

“Similarly the U9s, most of the children had played some form of rugby before but the children new to the sport like Louis and Alex adapted really well and our only girl Mollie really mixed it up with the boys.

“They all loved it and are really motivated to do well in the next festival. We are running weekly training and I am sure that the children will be training hard to do better in the next festival.

“A special thanks to the many parents who came along and supported the club and children in this event.”

Squad: Nikhil Bhasin, Alex Edwards, Jack Hamer, Barry Heath, Cian Kelly, Jake Miller, Louis McNamara, Joseph O’Donnell, Antony Palmeri, Jamie Ralph, Mollie Reynolds, Joe Williams, Gethin Wynne.

There were no prouder parents on Saturday than the original St Albans Centurions Rugby League club founders Ken Edwards and Gary Tetlow as their sons participated in competitive rugby league for the first time, 15 years after the pair established what is now one of St Albans’ most senior and successful sports clubs.

If there are any children who would like to give rugby league a try with the club at these age groups they should contact gary.tetlow@ntlworld.com