This week a highly successful Highland RFC Under-12 squad returned after a four day tour to compete in the 29th Annual London Irish Rugby Festival in West London. The competition comprised of over 20 sides from all over the UK, many of them from clubs which contain 4 times as many players as Highland. Despite this, the 16 boys from Inverness only conceded 2 tries in their first tie against Richmond, one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
The squad went on to play some impressive rugby that led to 3 further hard fought victories against Mumbles, De La Salle and Galwegians, leading the way to the plate final against the Ulster Bohemians, who defeated Highland last year. With no score at half time the youngsters had everything to play for and after 2 minutes of the second half Jamie Gillan touched down for Highland to take the lead.
The Bohemians rallied and camped themselves just off the Scottish try line for the last 7 minutes of the game but they could not penetrate the steel wall of green and red shirts. The brave Highland defence prevented the Irish side from scoring and led to a fantastic victory for the boys.
This was the third consecutive year that Highland had been invited to participate in this prestigious competition and they were again the only Scottish side to compete. However, throughout the day the Highland players attracted interest from many more spectators, thanks to the intensity of the rugby displayed by the youngsters which overwhelmed their Welsh, English and Irish opponents.
The tour organiser, Colin Gillan, said ‘The squad has been planning and training for this trip for several months and to see the results of their efforts materialise on the field was tremendously rewarding. The boys played some courageous rugby and they should be very proud of themselves.’
The squad also had the opportunity to travel to Twickenham for a Help for Heroes rugby match between Wasps and Bath and the players were challenged to raise some money with collection tins of their own. The squad is now looking forward to handing over a cheque for £400 to this worthwhile charity.
Highland RFC Junior section would like to thank their sponsors whose generous financial contributions made this tour possible. Opportunities such as this for junior rugby development would not be possible without their support.