Fringe Box



It’s Medals, Burgers and War Stories for Youngsters at Guildfordians Rugby Festival

Published on: 9 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 9 Oct, 2013
Prize giving: everyone gets a medal for taking part.

Prize giving: everyone gets a medal for taking part.

By Maria Rayner

Think rugby and most people will imagine muddy, thickset men downing pints and eating curry after 80 minutes of beating up the opposition on a rainy winter’s afternoon.

The scene at Stoke Park told a different story on Sunday (October 6) when Guildfordians RFC hosted their first rugby festival of the season.

Chairman Steve Brierley said: “I’m really pleased with the turnout, and the sunny weather. It’s great to see all these youngsters in the park having fun.”

One of the youngest fans perhaps dreaming of the day she can "smash into people"

One of the youngest fans, perhaps dreaming of the day she can “smash into people” and tackle the boys.

Guildfordians organise two mini rugby festivals a season for about 1500 players ranging from U5 to U12 and teams come from as far as Wimbledon, Battersea and Haywards Heath.

Coach Mark Payne said: “We’re a community-run club where it’s all about young boys and girls getting really good experiences with rugby. We have three senior teams but kids can start with the micros as soon as they can walk, and play games from age four. Most of the coaches are parents and ex-players and the club is really supportive with training for them. It’s a fantastic place.”

Watching the rugby? An avid fan gets momentarily distracted.

Watching the rugby? An avid fan gets momentarily distracted.

Visitors to Stoke Park were able to see this community spirit in action. The senior rugby pitches were divided up and boys and girls in multi-coloured shirts took turns to run about bashing into each other. Parents refereed, coached or cheered from the side lines, occasionally taking timeout to read the Sunday papers in the unseasonable sunshine, while the Guildfordian Chairman cooked up bacon and burgers.

Burgers & bacon 2 470

For those who need them… burgers and bacon.

Guildfordian U10 player, Lawrence said: “What I like best about rugby is smashing into people.”

The club are keen to recruit more girls like Rosie who plays for the U12s and loves tackling the boys. “Rugby’s fun, but I prefer the rain and mud.”

Running repairs 470

One of the lads has a character forming injury dealt with. Probably re-told as real war story when he gets back to school.

Her mum, Dominy Hope added: “It’s really sociable on a Sunday morning when all the mums and dads come down to Stoke Park. There’s a lovely atmosphere.”

Damian Pritchard, who is a member of three Surrey rugby clubs despite never playing himself, said: “My children all started here but have gone on to play at county and national level. All the coaches from the opposing teams get on really well. At 12 our girls move onto Guildford Gazelles based at Guildford RFU.”

St John’s Ambulance were in attendance and reported a variety of injuries including cuts, sprains and stings, some unfortunately requiring further treatment in hospital.

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