Pupils from three primary schools in Porthcawl kicked off their Rugby World Cup preparation last week with a Whitsun World Cup Rugby Festival organised by the Parish of Newton, Nottage, Porthcawl. Newton Primary, Nottage Primary and West Park Primary each fielded 2 teams of Year 4 pupils for a tag rugby tournament at Porthcawl Rugby Club.
The festival was the brainchild of our own Father Craig, who was inspired by his son’s school’s rugby tournament. Father Craig explains, “Last November, I supported my son Rhys at his school’s rugby tournament at Porthcawl Rugby Club. It was a great afternoon of rugby and I thought this was something that might work at parish level.”
“I called my friend David McNally of Sports Xtra to find out how to go about it and he immediately offered to run the day for us free of charge. Next I contacted one of our parishioners, John Pearman, former president of Porthcawl Rugby Club. He thought it was a great idea and with the support of Porthcawl Rugby Club, we secured our venue. When we contacted the schools, they were enthusiastic and the idea began to take shape.”
“With the date fixed around Whitsun, the festival of the Holy Spirit for the Christian Church, the tournament was named the Whitsun World Cup Rugby Festival. This was ideal as Whitsun is when we celebrate the spreading of the Gospel within the community and to many different nations. ”
Each of the participating schools was allocated two countries. Newton Primary had Samoa and Uruguay; Nottage Primary had USA and Romania; and West Park Primary had Fiji and Georgia. This offered the pupils the opportunity to look at the culture, traditions, religions, geography and sports of each country, as well as find out about that country’s rugby-playing history.
The festival was played at Porthcawl Rugby Club over three pitches named the Millennium Stadium, Twickenham and the Olympic Stadium. The games were refereed by five pupils from Porthcawl Comprehensive School, who demonstrated exemplary behaviour, were a credit to their school and gained valuable experience for their sports studies.
The celebratory atmosphere of the event was further enhanced by guest appearances of some of the greats from the world of rugby including Sir Gareth Edwards, Tommy “Tom the Bomb” David, Steve Fenwick, Clive Williams and Ryan Bevington.
Wales’ Ryan Bevington, who played in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and went to school in Porthcawl, said, “I help coach the 16s youth and seniors. It’s great to have this festival in Porthcawl RFC, my local club, and to see the local schools having a great day out in the sun.”
The festival was a huge success with each of the schools winning a signed 2015 World Cup Rugby ball.
- The prize for Best Kit, presented by Steve Fenwick, was awarded to Newton Primary who wore their flags throughout the festival
- The prize for Best Flag, presented by Sir Gareth Edwards, was won by Nottage Primary – their USA and Romanian flags were joined back-to-back demonstrating the Whitsun value of unity
- The Barnabas Ball, presented by Ryan Bevington and awarded for the spirit of sport and encouraging other teams and fair play, was won by West Park Primary.
Father Craig said, “It was an inspiring day. The festival has helped to further links between the parish and the schools, the pupils’ families, voluntary organisations and local businesses. It also showed that through rugby and sport, the church can be fun and up-to-date with the community around it.”
“To have five Welsh internationals at the festival was amazing. We are extremely grateful for their support and encouragement. Thank you too to Sports Xtra and Porthcawl RFC. Most importantly, we have demonstrated to the pupils and staff that they count, they are important to us and that we care for them. Without their energy, vitality and gifts, this festival would not have been a success. A huge thank you to you all.”
Richard Dennis of West Park Primary summed up the event, “The festival was well run, great fun and all inclusive, giving the girls and those with no rugby skills the chance to participate. Everyone had a smile on their face.”