A record number of young rugby players transformed Hadleigh RFC into the focal point of Mini-TAG rugby in the country on Sunday.
With a total of 405 players competing, this year’s Hadleigh TAG smashed last year’s record of 330 players, with the event officially recognised as the biggest Mini-TAG festival within the British Isles.
Building on the success of previous years, Hadleigh RFC welcomed 36 squads of both Under-7s and Under-8s from Braintree, Colchester, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Bishop’s Stortford, Chelmsford, Witham, Brightlingsea, Mistley, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Harwich, Stowmarket, Felixstowe, Ipswich YM, as well as their own Hadleigh Baa-Baas, to play some entertaining rugby.
To the cheers of more than 800 spectators, the first whistle, blown by the guest of honour, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Nassé, Commanding Officer, 7 Aviation Support Battalion REME, Wattisham, signalled the start of 90 games and a combined 15 hours of Mini-TAG.
Mini-TAG is a non-contact form of rugby designed to help young boys and girls develop their fitness, technical skills and to experience the joy of playing the game.
Charlie Warburton, the chairman of Hadleigh RFC, said: “The Hadleigh TAG is now an established and much loved, cornerstone of grass-roots rugby in the Eastern Counties and we are proud to have welcomed so many teams and players from all across the region.
“The massive levels of support from the RFU and our local community demonstrate just how important the Hadleigh TAG is to the development of “Kids First” rugby in the region.”
Marcus Gallagher, the youth chairman of Hadleigh RFC, added his thoughts : “It’s truly wonderful what we have here.
“What started off four years ago with just nine clubs and 120 players has grown into a festival which gets messages of support from afar afield as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
“Our volunteers, sponsors, and everyone who has been involved today, have all played their part in putting Hadleigh and the Eastern Counties on the world map of our sport.
“Hadleigh RFC would like to thank all of the organisations and individuals for their support without which the festival would not have been possible whatsoever. It was a great day.”