Last Sunday (5th May), the club hosted the inaugural Festival of Youth Rugby here at Raleigh Park. The aim of the day was to promote and showcase the high level of talent of local youth grassroots rugby, and this was shown in high abundance!
The festival was composed of two 7s tournaments, one for Colts and one for Under 15 Girls, with the day also featuring a full Under 15s boys game against Welsh touring side, Machen.
The Colts league was made up of two Withycombe sides, Withy Green and Withy Black, as well as Exmouth, Exeter Athletic and South Molton. The Girls league was made up of four teams, Exmouth & Withycombe Girls (Excombe), Crediton, Paignton and Sidmouth.
The morning kicked off with the 7s league matches. Bathed in glorious sunshine, the crowds were entertained with a high standard of rugby and plenty of high-paced action across both pitches. The quality didn't drop throughout the morning as there was a remarkable total of 110 tries scored over the opening sixteen games! The morning came to an end with the home sides performing well as both Withy sides finishing 1st and 2nd of the Colts league table and the Excombe girls topping their league too!
As the two groups of teams stopped for a breather (and lunch at the BBQ Tent), the attention turned to the Under 15s boys as they, fresh from last weekend's Devon Plate win, played a full 15-a-side match against a highly skilled Machen side to reverse a 0-14 half time deficit to come back and win 21-14 in another top quality match.
Following on from the under 15s, the knockout matches of the colts and girls got underway with Withy Green and Withy Black winning their semi-final matches against South Molton and Exeter Athletic respectively, and with both losing sides playing Exmouth in a plate triangle series setting up a Withy Vs. Withy colts cup final and a South Molton Vs. Exeter Athletic plate final. For the girls, Excombe were successful in their Semi against Crediton, setting up a final with Paignton who were victorious against Sidmouth in the opposite fixture.
These matches were every bit as enjoyable as the morning session and the round of finals were no exception to this as the Raleigh Park supporters were treated to four thrilling final matches. The all-Withy final was a close fought, end-to-end affair with Withy Black just edging it 5 tries to 4. This was echoed in the girls’ final with Excombe coming from behind to beat Paignton 5-3. In the colts triangle plate final, Exeter Athletic edged out South Molton 4-3 and Crediton Girls beating Sidmouth 3-1 in their plate final.
Withycombe Director of Rugby, Rick Libbey said: “It was a wonderful event played in the right spirit and enjoyed by all. The results can second to the enjoyment had by all the players. Thanks must go to the referees, volunteers and sponsors for their dedication and commitment to make this what we hope will be annual event”
Any money raised will help the club continue to develop the facilities needed to cater for boys and girls at all age groups.
Each of the clubs should be proud of the quality shown by their teams on the day and this goes a long way to show that he future of youth rugby in the area really is bright!
You can view the full photo album of the day HERE