Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) RUFC’s Jay City Finance Ltd-sponsored minis section descended on the Bournemouth Mini & Youth Rugby Festival in what was to become one of the most successful outings for the club in recent history.
The two Camelot U7 teams took their first Bournemouth tournament by storm as they demolished their pool rivals with eight straight wins before convincing victories in both finals to emerge as festival winners – completing a fourth tournament triumph this year with two more to go.
Head coach David Hughes expressed his delight that ‘every one of the 12 played exceptionally well’ with notable performances from Max Walters, Matthew MacDonald, Lorcan Hughes and Harry Webb.
Displaying an excellent standard of rugby, the U8s made it to the final of the Plate after winning three of their four pool matches and finishing as runners-up.
The final saw Camelot unfortunately lose 9-8 in heartbreaking fashion. That said, head coach Simon Walker felt that “both sides played in fantastic spirit and, although we were hugely disappointed, the experience will strengthen us as we go into the closing tournaments of the season.”
Special mention goes to Harry Walker and Harry Woodard, with the whole squad of 10 leaving Bournemouth as impressive Plate finalists.
The U9s entered two teams at Bournemouth, the Knights and Wizards. The Knights won the trophy having convincingly defeated three of their four opponents, before finally conquering Hove 4-3 in the Pool only to meet them again in a nail-biting final.
Despite an epic defence, Camelot conceded a try in the dying seconds as the game finished 3-3; all eyes turning to the feared try count-back.
Head coach Ian Marsden said: “There were a few nail biting minutes as a count-back was done to see which team had scored the most tries during the day.
“This saw the rightful winners announced as Camelot and the faces on the players when I broke the news is a picture I will never forget! Proud is an understatement!”
The Hemel U10s squad recorded a very close 2-1 victory in the opening match against Hove, before defeating Launceston and Bournemouth 5-1 and 3-1 respectively to face Ellingham & Ringwood in the deciding Pool match.
Despite prevailing 7-1, the Camelot team found themselves facing Beckenhamin the try count-back to decide who would progress to the final of the cup.
Sadly Camelot lost 23-17 to Beckenham in tries scored and so progressed to the final of the Shield against New Malden.
With the final scores level on 2-2, the Shield was awarded jointly to Camelot and New Malden.
Head coach Paul Clarkson said: “They were magnificent. The whole coaching team was very proud of them today.”
Meanwhile, the Hemel U11s once more proved dominant with four back-to-back wins in the qualifying round.
Scoring 21 tries and conceding only three, a place in the final against Old Grammarians assured a tough match ahead.
The game remained tied until a defensive gap was spotted by Alex Tofalli who assisted Daniel Jones into smashing through to score the opening try to give Hemel ta half-time lead.
Unfortunately, an equaliser in the second half brought the game to a drawn conclusion; consistent with the spirit of rugby it was agreed by the coaches that the finalists would share the trophy.
Head coach and director of youth rugby Dean Edwards said: “Mentioning just a few players only begins to describe the effort put in by the whole team who, without exception, stepped up to the mark on the day.”
Elsewhere in the festival, the U12s once again showed formidable character against unfamiliar opposition, but had the heartbreak of leaving a festival unbeaten, but also empty-handed.
After being held to a hard fought 1-1 draw with Welsh side Ystrad Rhondda in the opening fixture, Camelot experienced similar frustration in a 2-2 draw against Cornish side Launceston.
For the third successive game, Camelot went a try down early on against Bournemouth, but the Hemel side were able to level the scores at 1-1 at full time.
Sadly for the Camelot side, Ystrad Rhondda’s victory over Launceston meant they were unable to qualify for the semi-finals but they beat Old Grammarians 3-0 to ensure they left the festival undefeated.
Head coach Dave Martin said “It was a good day’s work and an experience that will no doubt hold the players in good stead for the future.”
Camelot chairman Toni Massa congratulated all sections for outstanding displays of rugby, sportsmanship and individual commitment. He said: “The minis section is the future of any rugby club and I am so proud to see its growth and achievement this season.”
Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) RUFC is a community club and welcomes new players of all ages and abilities. For further information, please visit www.pitchero.com/clubs/camelotrugby/contact