Sports Awards: Longton Rugby Club Under-13s are kings of the county



Longton Rugby Club’s under-13s boys are champions of Staffordshire – winning the title they first lifted six years ago.

In fact, this was technically a title defence.

After they won the county tournament as an under-sevens side, the rules changed and the RFU made all mini tournaments non-competitive.

But nine of the youngsters who won that first trophy are still with the club, eight in this boys’ team and one in the girls’.

That’s a sign of the strength of the club’s junior section, which includes close to 300 children competing in teams from under-16s to under-six. The junior set up also features 100 volunteers including more than 50 qualified coaches.

That strength was obvious in the County Cup, contested by 16 teams split into four groups, followed by a semi-final and final.

They won it in style, recording group results of Longton 55 Willenhall 10, Longton 50 Trentham 0 and Longton 50 Wolverhampton 0 to reach the semi-finals.

Newcastle were beaten 40-0 at that stage before Longton triumphed in the final at Leek Rugby Club, winning handsomely 50-5 against Barton-under-Needwood.

Scores are accumulated with five points per try, with no conversions.

Longton Under-13s have now been nominated for the Sentinel/City-of-Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year awards, in the Junior Team category, by their head coach Matt Adderley.

He said: “We still call ourselves the county champions at under-sevens even though some of the lads are 12 and 13. We are undefeated with that title!

“Even though we play 13-a-side at this age group, so not the full 15 like senior rugby, every single member of the 31-strong squad at some point played in the cup run.

“That is great, it is not as though we just got some stand-out players that did everything – this is a real squad effort.

“In the final, seven different players scored, including both our props, which was great because they don’t score too many! Everybody did really well.”

As well as being head coach of the under-13s, Matt is also vice-chairman of the junior section and head of girls’ rugby.

Part of the club’s success is recruitment and offering youngsters the chance to play the game.

He said: “We do a mixture of things. We do some Facebook campaigning which has proved successful over time.

“There are times in the season when we encourage our players to bring a friend along to training. We always offer anyone who wants to try rugby at the club free sessions.

“Our membership is really reasonable anyway but they can come and have three free sessions just to see if they like it and like the club.

“But we also have a team of coaches over the season that go into schools. We take over PE lessons, run after-school clubs and do whatever we can to promote rugby throughout Staffordshire.”

They are helped by their home pitches and clubhouse at Trentham Lakes on Sir Stanley Matthews Way, close to Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium.

Adderley said: “We have some of the best facilities in Staffordshire for both very senior and junior rugby now.

“They are great pitches, we very rarely get called off for rain or snow, so we can play rugby for most of the season.

“But also the younger age groups train on 3G pitches so, when they are learning the sport, they don’t get muddy – even though some of them probably want to.

“That’s great for teaching youngsters the core skills of the game.

“We are really happy with the facility, including the bar and changing rooms there. It’s a great facility for the sport.”





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