The last time I found myself on these playing fields on a cold, wet December evening was way back in 1987 when I played rugby for Chatham House. Today, many, many years later, I was here again to report on the Thanet Primary School Rugby Festival and I was really looking forward to visiting my old school.
Although it seemed strikingly familiar as I walked through the school gates, much had changed since my time at the school. The lower field, where I spent many a summer afternoon playing cricket, is now an impressive floodlit multi-use pitch and the old pavilion had been completely updated. Apparently, they even let girls in now, since the merger of Chatham House and Clarendon House Grammar Schools back in 2011.
The Thanet Primary School Rugby Festival, organised by the team at Thanet PASSport and run by CCGS staff and Young Sports Leaders, involved Primary School teams from around Thanet. The heavy rain that had been forecast never materialised and the bitter cold didn’t seem to affect the young participants as they took to the field of play.
The games were quickly underway, with six schools competing simultaneously while the others watched from the sidelines. The matches were impressively competitive as each team tried to outwit, overpower and outscore their opponents. Many of the games were incredibly close with only one or two tries proving the difference between victory and defeat.
Eventually, as the round robin part of the tournament ended, it was announced that Upton Juniors would be playing St Peter’s Juniors in the final. This game was incredibly close and it looked for a while like neither team would break the other down. As both teams started to tire, the game opened up and a try apiece were scored in quick succession. This, however, was how the score remained until the final whistle. The teams, coaching staff and supporters all looked towards Gary Rees, the Festival organiser, as he announced the game was to be decided with a ‘Golden Try … the next team to score, would win.
The following few minutes were incredibly cagey and tense but it was Upton who decisively took their opportunity and ran out worthy winners with a fantastic match-winning try.
As with all of these events, the sportsmanship and spirit of fair play demonstrated by all those involved was exemplary. Every single team was gracious in both victory and in defeat as players cheered their opponents and shook hands.
The Festival ended with the awarding of medals to all participants and the presentation of the Victory Shield to the overall winners. It was to the relief of everyone that this presentation took place in the school’s dining hall, where hot drinks were available to help ‘defrost’ the parents, staff and children. It also gave me the opportunity to take another trip down memory lane as I was briefly transported back to my childhood as I looked around the hall.
Thanks to Gary, the team at PASSport, Teachers, Sports Coaches and Young Leaders from CCGS for making this yet another successful local sporting event. Thank you all for inviting me along and making me feel so welcome.
Please take a look through our gallery of the Rugby Festival and feel free to share this article with those who may be interested.