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GALLERY: Suffolk Schools Cup and Shield Finals

PUBLISHED: 12:05 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:44 21 March 2014

Thomas Mills (Under-12 Shield winners)

Thomas Mills (Under-12 Shield winners)

Archant

Six different schools lifted the respective titles on offer, over two days, at the Suffolk Schools Cup and Shield Finals, yesterday and on Tuesday.

Yesterday’s Shield finals were for the teams that finished third and fourth in their respective area competitions, while Tuesday’s Cup ties were for the teams that had finished first and second.

In Tuesday’s event at Woodbridge RFC, Hardwick School won the under-12s cup, Hadleigh were the under-13 victors and County Upper prevailed in the under-14 event.

Yesterday, the Shield winners were Thomas Mills (U12), Beyton (U13) and Bungay (U14).

“Tuesday’s and Thursday’s events were the culmination of all the hard work that has been put in this year,” said Suffolk Schools Rugby Union secretary and competition organiser Andrew Wilesmith.

“We have held 15 area rounds for under-12s to under-16s and had just over 3,000 people playing schools rugby over the course of the year.

“That includes schools such as Castle Manor, Alde Valley and Felixstowe Academy, who are on the ‘All Schools programme’, and have only just started playing rugby.”

He added: “The competition is getting bigger and bigger, having started out six years ago with just 18 schools in the county.

“The development of the game at schools level is also translating into club rugby and clubs are getting more and more players coming along as a result. Obviously, youngsters are also inspired by the success of our local clubs, it goes hand in hand.

“The standard has improved massively too and we are finding that the difference between the Cup and Shield teams is not as great as it once was.”

Despite the growing numbers, Wilesmith is keen to get even more schools on board.

“Schools are getting involved all the time and I would encourage all schools to take the opportunity to play,” he said.

“The support mechanism is there for the training and development of staff through local clubs and any school that wants to play rugby can contact me at andrew.wilesmith@yahoo.co.uk.”

The Roll of honour:

Under-12s Cup: Hardwick (W), Bungay, Hartismere, Farlingaye, Hadleigh, Beyton

Under-13s: Hadleigh (W), Thomas Mills, Hardwick, Farlingaye, Westley, Bungay

Under-14s: County Upper (W), Farlingaye, Hadleigh, Thomas Mills, King Edward VI, Hartismere

Under-12s Shield: Thomas Mills (W), Stour Valley, Combs, East Bergholt, Felixstowe (All Schools, Alde Valley (All Schools)

Under-13s Shield: Beyton (W), Holbrook, St James, Hartismere, Debenham

Under-14s Shield: Bungay (W), Copleston, Castle Manor (All Schools and first ever tournament entered), East Bergholt, St Benedict’s.

n The All Schools Programme is aimed at increasing the amount of rugby in schools, and encourages new players to join local clubs.

From 2012, the aim was to take rugby to 750 state secondary schools with the aim of making school life happier and healthier, reducing anti-social behaviour, enhancing learning and increasing self-esteem for students.

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