The tournaments, run by the Dragons Community Department and sponsored by Melin Homes and Tata Steel allow children from the Gateway Rugby Primary Schools to participate in tag rugby – with the winners of each qualifying group playing at half-time during the Dragons final home game.
Over the past two weeks, 18 schools have vied for their chance to be one of those teams. And, after some intense matches, numerous tries and hard-work from all, those teams have been confirmed.
For the Phil James Memorial Shield, the two teams to do battle will be Castle Park vs Ysgol-Y-Ffin. And contesting the Phil James Memorial Cup will be Dewstow vs Langstone.
Mrs Williams, from Eveswell Primary says the community department deserve huge praise for the organisation of the tournaments.
“It’s a very well organised tournament,” she said.
“Some of the children are not quite ready to move into contact just yet so I think it is great that the Dragons Community have decided to organise the tournament in this way as it allows any pupil to participate.
“There’s never much hanging around between games and the Community Department encourage us to have mini-games between matches to make sure the children get as much out of the experience as possible.
“I have brought a team down for these competitions for the past 16 years and it is great to see the confidence that participation in these tournaments bring to the children and they take that confidence into the classroom. “
Although playing at a Dragons match is the ultimate reward for the participants, in-line with the Dragons Community’s ethos of team-work and sportsmanship, fair play prizes were given to those teams that showed excellent behaviour throughout the day. This could be by shaking hands with the opposition despite defeat, listening intently to the referee during the match or any sportsmanlike conduct noted by the referees and volunteers.
This year, 4 teams were selected for this award. Those schools were Malpas Church, Llanmartin, Malpas Court and St David’s RC.
All teams also received a Dragons goody bag, containing lots of prizes to be shared amongst the team. In addition, Ed Jackson and Charlie Murray were on hand to give some tips to those youngsters that aspire to become professional rugby players. Thanks to Ed and Charlie for their contributions over the two days.
And Mrs Williams from Eveswell feels that the children can take a lot from their role-models being present throughout the day.
“Of course all the children want to play at a Dragons home game,” she said.
“But what people don’t realise is the incredible learning opportunities brought about because of the tournaments.
“The finalists get to be Guard of Honour for the Community on the day meaning they can watch and learn from the Dragons squad throughout the game and hopefully take things back into their schools and clubs to progress as rugby-players.
“Without these tournaments, many children would not be able to attend and see the Dragons in action and learn from them; so there is much more to be gained than the experience of playing in-front of a capacity crowd.”
“I am so grateful to Ed Jackson for coming along and providing the children with tips that money can’t buy.
On behalf of the Community Department, can I pay another tribute to the continued work of both Melin Homes and Tata Steel. Without their support, tournaments like these would not be able to run as smoothly and efficiently as they are. The joy you bring to children throughout the region is testament to the incredible partnership made with the Community Department – thanks for your continued support!
Congratulations to all participants in this year’s tournaments – we hope you all take some valuable skills and lessons from your participation.
The finals of the two tournaments will now be played at the Dragons vs Blues game so if you are in attendance, please get behind the participants and make it a day to remember.
Ryan Robinson – Dragons Community Ambassador