Last year, in line with the 2015 rugby World Cup, Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation partnered with Clifford Chance to pioneer a Rugby Academy in Tower Hamlets schools to build a legacy after the World Cup. This year the Rugby Academy grew with more schools involved thanks to the support from Clifford Chance volunteers who have been regularly donating their time to help coach the children.


160608_THYSF-Rugby-0007_HRAs the culmination of a year’s work in the school setting, each of the schools involved in the Clifford Chance Rugby Academy attend a tag rugby competition at Millwall Park. The group stages took place on Tuesday 8th June. The academy teams battled it out in a round robin format all fighting for the top 16 places who would go through to the knockout stages.


On Wednesday 22nd June the academy teams came together again for the knockout stages, hosted again at Millwall Park. All of the children where keen show off their hard work, putting on a spectacular display of rugby for the teachers, parents and referees in attendance.


Twenty-four teams from 12 schools entered the competition with Olga Primary School, Harbinger Primary School, St Luke’s Primary School and English Martyrs Primary School each taking a team through to the Semi-Finals.


Semi-final 1: Olga vs Harbinger (4-3)

The game started with both teams looking somewhat nervous but both settled into the game as each scored their first try. Olga started off playing catch up before snatching the victory in “Golden Try” extra time. A special mention needs to go to Harbinger who showed real rugby sportsmanship and congratulated their opponents.


Semi-Final 2: St Luke’s vs English Martyrs (0-3)

The second semi-final was a little more one sided with English Martyrs controlling the game right from the start, an early try was followed by a second after a costly intercepted pass from a St Lukes player. St Lukes faced an uphill battle and was unable to breakdown the opposition defence despite rallying behind captain William Shankland. A final try right at the whistle sealed the game and a spot in the final for English Martyrs.


The Final: Olga vs English Martyrs

Emotions where high both on and off the field with teachers and parents cheering their own teams while also acknowledging moments of strength from the opposition.


Both teams really put on a show and proved beyond any doubt that deserved to be in the final. Olga again fell behind early on thanks to a superb solo try from English Martyrs speedster and captain Kai Denys. Neither team was giving an inch until the last couple of minutes when English Martyrs edged to a 4-2 lead, following another moment of magic from Kai as he weaved his way in and out of the Olga defence before passing onto his winger to finish the try.


Olga then kicked into gear and a quick break from Olga’s captain George Pettersen was followed by a brilliant offload to Aaqil Chowdhury who brought his team back into the game 4-3. As the final whistle approached, English Martyrs lost the ball and an opportunistic Terrance Martin from Olga was on hand to score the try bringing the teams even and sending the match into “Golden Try”.


English Martyrs started with the ball and almost scored instantly with a flowing move from one end of the pitch to the other; displaying both individual moments of skill and team support play but a last-ditch diving tackle was saved the day for Olga.


Several minutes of nail-biting play from both teams ensued until a turnover led to Olga breaking away down the right wing with both captains Kai and George sprinting off down the pitch followed by Kai making a tackle but George was still able to pick out the pass for Olga to score the Golden Try and win the Tournament.


160608_THYSF-Rugby-0239_HRTHYSF Rugby Development Officer Scott Vinnicombe, who has been coaching the children at their school sessions and who organised the tournament, gathered both teams together after the final whistle and congratulated them all on an amazing performance.


When asked about for a comment, Scott was highly complimentary, “Wow, what a game. Both teams were brilliant. For everyone to play so hard in the final of a competition then all come together to shake hands and appreciate the effort put in by each other is what rugby is all about. I can’t wait to work with these young people again in the near future”.


Scott will now be selecting a “Dream Team” to represent the Clifford Chane Rugby Academy in the THYSF Borough Rugby Tournament on 12th July, where the Dream Team students, all of whom are in year 4, will be up against year 5 and 6 children in the competition. Scott will also identify which students will be selected to attend District Rugby Training Sessions at Millwall Rugby Club and his Rugby Summer Camp during the school holidays.