Minis continue their development at the Stoop

Cents young guns enjoy Mighty Quins Festival experience

RUGBY LEAGUE: ST ALBANS Centurions’ minis took part in the Mighty Quins rugby league festival on Saturday at the Twickenham Stoop, 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, continues to see a fantastic level of interest which enabled the club to run sides at both U7s and U9s age groups in this tournament, played on the main pitch before Harlequins Rugby League’s clash with Wigan Warriors in the Super League.

The U7s Centurions have only been together as a team for six weeks, but in that short space of time they have worked really hard to develop an understanding of tag rugby and have been rewarded with qualification for the semi-finals in the Brentwood Festival and beating local rivals Hemel Stags in a recent triangular tournament.

The team, including new boy Ruairi McLoughlin, who at five was the youngest member of the team, were pitched in the group stages with Sussex Merlins, Medway Dragons and Brentwood Elvers.

Their first game against the Elvers was a close run affair in which Cents went down 1-0, following a late try, but the team picked themselves up for their next two games, showing some great determination and no little skill in recording a 3-1 win over Merlins and a 4-2 win over Dragons.

The boys and girls were buzzing and as they finished runners up in their pool, they qualified to play Hemel Stags in a third/fourth place play-off.

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By this time a big crowd was building for the Super League game, watching the minis game, and the Cents gave them plenty to cheer about with two length of the field tries, leading to a 2-1 victory and third place overall in the tournament.

Squad: Charlie Battle, Ben Dormer, Astrid Koppe, Shaun Labuda, Ruairi McLoughlin, Gaby McGlenn, 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. As with the U7s, the team have only been together for a short time and have done remarkably well, adapting to a sport they had little, if any previous experience in.

Cents were involved in pool games, in their first beating Guildford Giants 4-2, and then drawing with Medway Dragons 4-4 who scored the equalising try right on the final whistle.

The final group game was against an experienced Brentwood Elvers side, and although the Cents went down 5-2, they competed well against the Essex team, who went on to win the tournament. In the semi-final the Cents came up against a big, mobile Croydon side, and despite another valiant effort by the Centurions, they ended up losing 4-2.

Like their younger club mates the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will be confident that come the St Albans Minis Festival in August, they will be better equipped to compete with their more experienced counterparts.

Squad: Nikhil Bhasin, Connor, Jack Hamer, Cian Kelly, Jude Lloyd, Aidan Lovett, Toby Mostyn, Matt Naylor, Joseph O’Donnell, Jamie Ralph, Mollie Reynolds, Gethin Wynne

The youngsters’ fun packed day was rounded off when all the competing children did a lap of hour at half time of the Super League game, taking the well deserved applause from the gathered Wigan and Quins fans.

Speaking after the festival, minis organiser Gary Tetlow was thrilled saying: “The kids have trained really hard over the last few weeks to prepare for this Festival, and I am really pleased for every one of them.

“Their enthusiasm and efforts were rewarded and whilst we were always going to struggle against the more experienced sides, we acquitted ourselves really well and we can look forward to the St Albans Minis Festival in early August with a great deal of optimism.”

Minis’ training (age groups U7s, 9s and 11s) continues on Thursday evenings at Toulmin Drive. For more information email – everyone welcome.