- Ten local schools competed at Cheltenham School tournament
- Teenage referees put through their paces
Photo: Getty Images
Cheltenham Schools annual Engagement Tournament has again proved a big success both with the competing teams and the teenage referees who have taken charge of the matches throughout November and December.
Each session has attracted around ten local school teams to the Prince of Wales Stadium with five budding young referees, aged between 14 and 15 and all from the Cheltenham club, officiating.
Tom Daubney, David Payne, Sam Jones, Jonty Wilkinson, Charles Peters and Alastair Brunt took charge of all the games while, thanks to the efforts of the recently retired world class referee Chris White, three referee scholars from Gloucester University, Josh Chapman, Dan Parrott and Ed McWalter, also helped out on the final evening providing coaching and mentoring for the boys.
"The whole purpose of the tournament is to get lads who don’t normally play rugby into the game," explains Peter Brunt RFU Club Referee Developer for North Gloucestershire. "It is a great idea and Cheltenham RFC, with its scheme of providing referee education for young players in their Under 15 squad, is ideally placed to support. This is the third year of the partnership. The boys certainly developed over the three evenings and were showing signs of being really confident referees by the end.
"In the last three or four years we’ve generally put up to ten Under 15 players through the Entry Level Refereeing Award (ELRA) and they get to try refereeing out in a relatively easy tournament. We’ve already had some go through to join the Gloucester and District Referees Society."
While the local Winchcombe School side proved the team to beat over the three evenings Brunt says that the main aims of the tournament were to get local youngsters interested in rugby and involved in the game for the first time.
He points out: "It’s played on a round-robin basis and the whole thing is to get all of the youngsters to enjoy themselves, so it’s really no big deal as to who actually wins overall."
One way or another, as usual, the tournament was once again a big success as recognised by the Rugby Football Union’s Referee Development Manager for the South West, Steve Harland.
"This has been a great opportunity for the boys to develop their skills during this tournament which will also benefit their playing and life skills,” he says. “Peter Brunt has been instrumental in supporting not only this group of referees but also a very good Club Referee Section at Cheltenham RFC."