- Thornton-Cleveleys connect with Fylde rugby neighbours
- Ambition and drive makes O2 Touch a major success
Photo: RFU Archive
Three years ago, Thornton-Cleveleys RUFC dabbled in the business of an out-of-season touch rugby league to keep players interested in the sport in the close season and also to try and recruit some new blood.
Today, Thornton RUFC are in the business of hosting the country's largest O2 Touch Rugby festival that attracted over 120 players.
This year’s competition had teams from all over the Fylde Coast gathering at the club for a six-week touch rugby programme. Teams such as the Arnold School Oldies, Mahers Magicians, Campbell's Rugby League Warriors, Wyre Barbarians, Blackpool 6th Form College and two teams from the host club made up the league, which delivered 187 matches, 874 tries and sporting fun for over 120 players of varying ages and experience.
More importantly in the longer term, the club is hopeful that there will once again be a positive dividend in terms of new players joining the club’s 15-a-side playing staff.
“We will be looking to recruit between 10 and 15 new players as a result of the tournament,” said Event Coordinator Paul Moran.
“We are talking with four newcomers at the moment, who should be great additions to our first-team squad. Also as a result of the touch, we will be able to field a third team this year on a regular basis, something we have not had before.”
The overall winners of the tournament were Mahers Magicians, who were led by Fylde RUFC back rower Danny Maher and consisted of some quality players from Fylde and Myerscough College and proved their worth by storming to the title with ease. The Arnold team, which was kindly put together by ex student Henri Hesketh, also showed their grammar school experience with some excellent performances.
Blackpool 6th Form College, coming off an unbeaten season, entered an Under 17s team and delivered some very notable performances while Craig Campbell's Rugby League Warriors certainly brought a different style of rugby to the league, especially in the size department, where some very big lads showed good ball handling and quick feet to challenge the leaders.
The host club contributed two teams, led superbly by Chris Brannigan, Chris Clapp and Pete Rae and containing a host of new players to the club, all playing their part in what has been a fantastic event.
“The tournament would not have been the success it has been without the key involvement of certain people.” said Moran.
“Special thanks are due to club captain Chris Brannigan for the constant publicising on social media sites and sending hundreds of texts each week, to the refereeing of Mark Hanson, Dave Ferridge and Albert Hall for a high-quality job and the team captains, who set the standard for a superb project.
“The competition has been played in excellent spirit by all and the standard of rugby has been very good. Competitions like this don’t just happen, they take careful planning, a lot of organisation and even more communication.
“Thornton RUFC are no doubt on the rise as a club and our results over the past two years show this very clearly. We pride ourselves on our reputation as a club that has an open door policy to anyone wishing to join us and welcomes all players regardless of ability. This is why we were so successful in running the O2 Touch Festival. Ambition and drive is what we are about at Thornton and we now look forward to the 2013/14 season.”