Stanley Primary School have retained the RFU YAZOO Tag 2 Twickenham title after beating London North rivals West Leigh Junior School in the national final at Rugby School.
More than 35, 000 children aged 10 – 11 have played in the competition this year and the winner and runner up from each regional event qualified for Wednesday’s (July13) finals .
The tournament, which begins at local level, is the biggest primary school programme of its kind in England and as the nation’s top two tag teams, Stanley and West Leigh, will play at Twickenham in the England v Wales Investec International curtain raiser on August 6.
In a fast and exciting final played on the famous Close at Rugby School, West Leigh scored first before Stanley soon equalised. The result was in doubt until the last play of the game when Stanley touched down in the corner just as the whistle blew to clinch their 4-3 victory.
Stanley Coach, Paul Burke said: “There were lots of nerves and we were lucky. We beat West Leigh quite comfortably in the regionals but this time they really gave us a fight. Of the 12 Stanley children, 11 are new from last year and they have trained hard since September. It has paid off and we’re really happy. I am a football man but rugby is the greatest team sport, it gels teams. A day at Twickenham will be the icing on the cake.”
Having lost out twice to Stanley, West Leigh Coach, Wesley Dunn, hopes it will be third time lucky when the two sides meet at the Home of England Rugby.
He said: “To qualify for the national finals was an amazing achievement but to then reach the final was incredible. The children have absorbed every bit of coaching and risen to the challenge. The key has been how well they have worked together. They were gracious in defeat and are still smiling. We look forward to hopefully getting one back on Stanley. To play at Twickenham is the biggest prize, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The 20 schools who qualified through local and regional rounds for Wednesday’s finals played in four random pools of five during the morning and their position in the table then determined whether they progressed into the Cup, Bowl or Plate.
The Plate was won by Ayscoughfee Hall School who also picked up the prize for best artwork on show during the opening parade. Each team was required to represent ‘We Are Rugby’ and the judges were impressed with the players from the East Midland’s school who each carried a piece of their large jigsaw.
The Bowl went to St Olave’s Primary from London South and the Isle of Man’s Scoill Ree Gorree picked up the Spirit of Rugby Award.
England winger, Mark Cueto, who is the YAZOO tag rugby ambassador and CVOC patron, presented the trophies. “You just have to look at the number of children here at the finals and also at the number of those involved in the earlier rounds to understand the success of this programme,” he said. “Tag is a great way to introduce children to the key skills and the values which are so important to the game of rugby.”
The RFU and YAZOO work in partnership with the national police children’s charity Child Victims of Crime (CVOC) to deliver the Tag 2 Twickenham programme. More than 600 police staff are trained by the RFU each year to coach YAZOO tag rugby in primary schools, funded by CVOC. The sport helps break down barriers and gives the police ideal and fun opportunities to educate youngsters about personal safety.
The country’s top 20 school tag teams who reached the finals are:
Ashperton Primary Academy (Herefordshire)
Augustine’s RC Primary School (Bucks)
Ayscoughfee Hall School (Lincs)
Edwalton Primary School (Notts)
Fellside Community Primary School (Newcastle)
Hugh Sexey Middle School (Somerset)
Loose Junior School (Kent)
Newquay Junior Academy (Cornwall)
Norley Primary School (West Yorkshire)
Oakley C of E Junior School (Hampshire)
Rothwell St Mary’s Primary School (West Yorkshire)
Scoill Ree Gorree (Isle of Man)
St Aloysius RC Junior School (Tyneside)
St Olave’s Primary (Kent)
St Peter and St Paul’s RC Primary School (Merseyside)
Stafford Preparatory School (Staffordshire)
Stanley Primary School (Middlesex)
Threshfield Primary School (North Yorkshire)
West Leigh Junior School (Essex)
Windermere Preparatory School (Cumbria)