After a successful season so far Thanet Wanderers Under 10s took a squad of 15 players to a two day rugby festival in Bournemouth. Having already fared well in East Kent and then Kent, the team were looking forward to the challenge of teams from other counties, and these challenges were provided by Dorset, Hampshire, Warwickshire and West Sussex.

On day one the boys arrived bright and early, despite enduring a long journey the day before, and were welcomed by lovely sunshine, albeit a bit on the chilly side. With warm-ups and pre-match preparation out of the way, one of two Gosport and Fareham teams were our first opponents.

In what seems to be becoming a bit of a tradition, our boys were a little slow out of the gates and the team from Hampshire, who were well drilled and capable in the ruck, came at us a little bit. The team held firm though and after a rousing halftime talk, came to life a little. The decisive try came late in the game, seeing Thanet edge the game 3-2.

Up next were Old Laurentians who hailed from Rugby in Warwickshire! The boys had begun to warm up a bit now and started to play some pretty slick rugby. Playing some lovely flowing passing moves, good direct forward running and competing well in the ruck, the boys proved to be too strong for the opposition and eventually ran out 5-1 winners.

Our final opponents of day one were Horsham Panthers. This game, against the side from West Sussex, proved to be something of a battle! Horsham played a fast, aggressive style of rugby, and backed by some ‘lively’ support, took the game to us from very early on. Unfortunately they were also quite ill-disciplined and a few high tackles and altercations later, the referee began to lose control of what was becoming a very heated encounter! At half time the boys were asked to keep up the good work and keep fighting for it. With it still being 0-0 it was looking very much a next try wins situation. Horsham didn’t let up in the second half, but they looked like a team who were used to getting their own way, and they began to lose their heads as they realised that we weren’t going to succumb to their bullying. Eventually, after digging in and playing some great defensive rugby, we got a break and nicked a try right before the end, snatching a 1-0 victory, enabling us to end day one with 3 wins from 3!

After a fun night dressed as superheroes back at camp it was time to take on day two!

Day twos curtain raiser was against the other Horsham team, the Tigers. With a few boys still bearing the marks of Saturday’s encounter, this game was always going to be interesting. The Tigers were just as aggressive as their counterparts and with the Panthers supporting from the side line, tensions were already running high as the game began just as it had the previous day. Again the boys held firm against some bullying and intimidating tactics, and got their reward in the second half with a well worked try. Horsham lost their heads a little at this point and threw on a couple of Panther ringers to try and take something from the game. Thanet held strong and scored another with the last play to win 2-0!

The second game was against our hosts Swanage and Wareham, who only had 5 of their own players with 3 Gosport loanees to bolster their ranks. We took the game to Swanage and soon raced into a commanding half time lead with some excellent flowing passing moves. More good rugby in the second half lead to more tries with Swanage grabbing a deserved consolation, as their hard working play isn’t reflected in the final 8-1 score line.

Finally, we played the second Gosport and Fareham team. There were some tired legs out there and after racing into a 3-0 lead, the weekend’s exertions began to show. Gosport pulled us back a little, but having learnt a lot in earlier games about how to dig in and support each other in defence, we held on to take a 3-2 victory.

That meant we finished the weekend with 6 wins from 6. All the parents and coaches were immensely proud of the boys who played some amazing rugby, showing discipline, integrity and great deal of talent in what was a hugely successful weekend of rugby. In the evening the boys were presented with their participation medals by Gloucester and England winger Charlie Sharples, which was the cherry on the top of an amazing cake of a weekend!!

We are already planning next year’s trip and are also on the lookout for new players to join our ranks in September, so spread the word!