- Hertfordshire’s fourth annual competition for students
- Seven teams of rugby friends reunited at Old Albanians
Photo: RFU Archive
Saracens’ recent recruit Joel Tomkins helped hand out the prizes as the Hertfordshire RFU staged another successful competition for returning students over the Christmas holiday.
Old Albanian RFC, where former Wigan rugby league star Tomkins now trains with Sarries, was the venue for seven teams competing in the fourth annual Hertfordshire Returning Students Trophy.
The 10-a-side rugby festival enables Herts rugby clubs to stay in contact with their student rugby players who have gone to college or university.
With tap-and-go penalties and drop kick conversions, this year saw the addition of a bonus point for scoring four or more tires in the 15 minute matches. A tough task that rewards the teams who adopt the fast and furious style of rugby.
Respects were paid before the first matches games kicked off to Chris Mills, an avid rugby supporter and former Mini & Youth Coach and Joint Youth Chairman at Datchworth Rugby Club, who had passed away recently.
And Datchworth opened the competition with their pool A fixture against a youthful Hitchin side who who claimed night’s first bonus point in a 29-7 win.
Old Albanian topped pool A with only one bonus point dropped while Bishop’s Stortford left their chances of reaching the final to their last pool B fixture against Wasps, an impressive 31-7 win. Stortford also defeated Tabard in the pool.
Saracens Sensations were welcomed to the pitch to perform a routine before the final as old rivals OAs and Bishop’s Stortford battled it out for the fourth year running, with Stortford hoping to add to two previous victories.
They had ‘Man of the Tournament’, Tom Banks, on their side, but could not contain the pace of the OAs backs and a comfortable 15-0 win for the home side gave them the Hertfordshire Returning Students Trophy for the second time.
"We have witnessed yet another great rugby event in our county which goes to prove that we are gaining strength in every section of our game," said Colin Haslam, Herts RFU President.
"To be able to get returning students back to their clubs and play in this annual event shows how Peter Engledow (Herts RDO) along with the CRCs – Sam Carpenter, Harry Harrison and Marcus Cattell – are keeping their fingers on the pulse and making sure our Pathway system is working."
Joe Richardson of Datchworth was given the ‘Best Try’ award for his big hand off and jinking footwork to take himself under the posts against Hitchin. That match also included the ‘Biggest Hit’ of the night by Hitchin’s Will Jay on a Datchworth player nearly twice his size.
Hertfordshire thanked Old Albanian RFC and their staff for use of their wonderful facilities and keeping the masses well fed and watered; Hertfordshire Referees’ Society for providing the officials; Saracens Sensations and Saracens’ Joel Tomkins; ProMedicus who supplied the first aid for the evening; and lastly Core Exercise Clinics at David Lloyd Enfield for their massage skills and core exercise challenge.