Seckford Shield Pub Touch Rugby Finals - Sunday 11th September20 September 2011 by Dee
Dee goes along to meet Sarah Shinnie from Suffolk Coastal District Council and Jan Ballard from Woodbridge Rugby Club to find out about this Competition that has been running over the summer and hear about the lucky players who were selected to play at Twickenham as part of the O2 Touch Rugby Competition.
At a well-supported final the Woodbridge Old Mariner pub claimed bragging rights for a year as it won the first ever Seckford Shield after it’s A team beat stiff opposition from local rivals the Coach & Horses, the Angel, the Red Lion and Bell & Steelyard pubs. The final was held on Sunday 11 Sept at a warm and windy Woodbridge Rugby Club. Many of the players had trained the day before on the hallowed turf of the Home of Rugby itself; Twickenham having been selected as one of only ten teams to play Touch Rugby at Twickenham having won the O2 Touch Facebook competition with the extensive coverage of their popular tournament (see attached reflections from one of the players).
The initiative for this six week tournament saw Woodbridge Rugby Club joining with Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk Sport’s lottery-funded Sportivate campaign to organise, coach, host and provide players for the inaugural Seckford Shield which lasted through August 2011. The Mariners put up two teams, and all of the pubs hosted after-game food and drink for supporters and players.
The event was supported by the RFU who sent the Rugby Development Officer for Cambridgshire & Suffolk; Lee Adamson to present the shields. Lee commented “like so many Clubs Woodbridge represents the grass roots of rugby, a focus in the community. With senior men’s and women’s teams as well as 300 youth members this place is buzzing with regular training and matches. O2 touch rugby events like the Seckford Shield aim to get players of both genders out of the pubs for some fun exercise playing a simplified game of rugby on a Sunday evening. Woodbridge has shown that this is attractive and relatively easy to organise”.
Touch rugby is a shorter fun version of rugby that is NOT full contact and is suitable for mixed teams - young & old alike. You need no great rugby heritage to enjoy this sport! Local pubs were invited to enter a squad of ten players aged from 15yrs and upwards and featuring at least two female players. Games are seven-a-side with unlimited substitutions – but one female player must be on the pitch at all times.
The last word must go to victorious publican Huw Thomas at The Mariner who said “The whole event has been an outstanding success, from the putting together of the teams and the touch rugby venues to the various pubs of Woodbridge all taking their turn to host the six weeks of league games, for our part the pub was packed to the gunwales on our host day, and that was even after the actual matches has been postponed due to wet weather. We were fortunate enough to win the competition with our first team and our Vets team even brandished their wooden spoon with pride!
We would certainly be willing to do this again next year and hopefully we will perform equally well. Thanks for including us in the competition”
Reflections of a Player - Twickenham September 2011
I was very excited at being selected to represent Woodbridge at the Touch Rugby competition at Twickenham. I have, over the years become progressively more involved with rugby as a whole and this was to be a very high point for me. From the moment we arrived at Twickenham the organising staff were professional and friendly and had clearly planned the day well. Following food, a screening of the England v Argentina match and a very informative tour, the players changed into kit. The organising staff lined up four teams at a time in the tunnel to the pitch having previously closed the doors. Once ready the doors were opened to reveal the spectators, who had made the trip. They cheered as each team ran out on to the pitch, making me feel very special and giving us all an opportunity of a lifetime. Some players kissed the pitch as they ran on, grabbed handfuls of grass for a keepsake or simply lay prostate hugging the turf!
The Touch Rugby competition was very well run and well refereed with the emphasis on fun and enjoyment. The emphasis became somewhat more competitive towards the latter parts of the competition but the enjoyment aspect was ever present. At the end of the competition all players were presented with a generous ‘goody bag’ and had the opportunity to collect them from the Royal Box having ascended the famous stairway to cheers and applause from the other teams. Another nice touch from organising staff and an experience unlikely to be repeated. On the whole, the day did a very good job at promoting rugby as an accessible community sport that can be enjoyed by all the family. The intrinsic comradeship and respect between opposing players was evident throughout and enabled a few new friendships to emerge. I applaud the organisers, sponsors and their staffs for creating such a wonderful opportunity for people like myself to experience a deeper understanding of the game and the infrastructure that supports it.