Beach is perfect spot for a Rugby World Cup warm-up

A team member from Chichester High School with the ball / Picture by Kate Shemilt
A team member from Chichester High School with the ball / Picture by Kate Shemilt

AS EXCITEMENT grows over the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the West Wittering Estate sponsored and hosted the seventh national under-19s school and colleges beach rugby event.

There were 30 teams of male and female players from schools and colleges, with some travelling from as far as Gower, Luton and Birmingham for the popular touch rugby event.

Preparation started early with bright blue skies welcoming the teams, some of them returning to this event for the second or third time.

With nearly 250 students taking part, the support of West Wittering Estate, Chichester College, Chichester District Council and the RFU all working together was essential, ensuring the sand pitches were set up, clean and harrowed to reduce impact of players running and turning in bare feet.

The RFU sent 18 members of their development staff to organise the running schedule and officiating.

There were five awards to be won and following league play-offs, all teams were channelled into pools that allowed them to play against similar ability levels.

The spectacle on the beach was intensified as players of similar abilities played eight-minute games at a tremendous tempo that was mesmerising, as they ran, twisted, chased and passed in a spectrum of coloured T-shirts.

Winners of the Perpetual Cup were Worthing College A, with the plate won by Berkshire College of Agriculture. Bowl winners were Bishop Luffa A and Chichester College A won the shield.

The sportsmanship award winners were Joseph Chamberlain sixth-formers from Birmingham who left at 5am and were stuck on the M40 following a critical accident for three hours but continued on their journey and played with great enthusiasm and spirit.

This event has gone from strength to strength, from an initial local challenge to a national event, thanks to the fantastic location and generosity of West Wittering Estate and local agencies working together to help youth participation in sport.

All participants had a great time, with teams attending for the first time vowing to be back next year.

Touch rugby is a great way of keeping fit, regardless of age, gender or ability, while having fun with your friends. People interested in having a go at touch rugby should go to Chichester Rugby Club, Oaklands Park, on Thursdays between 7pm and 9pm.

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