Maidstone West Tag Rugby Festival
On Sunday 20th May, I was up unusually early (0830 - it’s a Sunday remember!) I looked out the window and thought ‘great its not raining for once’ a quick exit from the house saw me on the way to the first ever Maidstone West Tag Rugby Festival at Aylesford Bulls Rugby Club. After a few thoughts of ‘why am I up so early?!?’ I arrived at the club.
There were colours from all over the world, Australian green, New Zealand black, French blue and of course the Welsh red!! (lets not forget the English white either!)
Each Cub pack had been given a different country to represent and we from Wateringbury were the Welsh red, the Cubs were all dressed in their red tops ready and waiting for their 1st game, then the announcement came; we were up, it was us verses the English - I support England but I was told by the Cubs that today I have to support Wales, hey, I'm not arguing with kids and studded boots and I think the parents soon followed my line of thought no matter what team they usually support!!
The first round saw each country play every other in their group, for those of you not familiar with sporting tournaments; this part of the tournament is where parents scream confusing and differing tactics to their child! There were passes left, right and centre, tags being pulled off (basically a tackle) and players running as fast as they could to reach the try-line and score that all important try for their team.
Each team had three games to play and the points were based on 4 for a win, 2 for a draw and 1 for a loss. By the 3rd game of our team, Wales, my nerves were shot, I couldn’t handle this pressure anymore...the amazement that I had lasted so long without my bacon sarnie...all was not lost, there was a BBQ onsite and they had bacon, anyhow I digress.
Wales and Australia qualified 1st in their own groups with the other teams coming in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. Now we enter the real part of the competition...THE FINALS. I have been to see Gillingham FC at Wembley twice and I know what suspense is like, but nothing could prepare me for this...my heart was racing, my blood pressure through the roof and I couldn’t stand still - all I was doing was watching and taking photos!
As teams played for the Shield, Bowl and Plate final, there were some great passes, loads of great tackles and a lot of running for the try-line - true nail biting stuff!!
Alas, the cup final was now upon us, this was it, Wales verses Australia, the pressure was on! The Aussies were off to a flying start they went up 1-0 and Wales replied with a try to make it equal. Wales found a gap in the Aussies wings and exploited to go on to make it 2-1. The Aussies were all over the Welsh like chickenpox and found a small gap to get through for the try, 2 all. There was only a minute left till the final whistle, then suddenly the Welsh were off...a fast run down the wing and then a TRY!! 3-2, the whistle went, the Welsh emerged victorious.
Teams won and teams lost but everybody was given a medal for taking part and there were smiles all round.
A big well done to the following Cub Packs...
Maidstone Methodist (England) - Wateringbury (Wales)
Panthers (New Zealand) - Yalding (Italy)
Tigers (Scotland) - Tovil (Ireland)
Knights (France) - Castles (Australia)
And a BIG THANK YOU to Aylesford Bulls Rugby Football Club for organising the tournament supplying the Tag Belts, the balls and most importantly the referees and pitches!
Nick Keates (ASL)