SKIPTON Rugby Club's U8/9s have rounded off an excellent season of growth and engagement with a much-deserved award-winning performance at Harrogate RUFC’s End of Season festival and Skipton RFC’s age grade awards ceremony.

On Sunday, May 1, The Royal Shepherd sponsored team was awarded the 'TREDS' accolade at Harrogate RUFC for the players' demonstration of the core values of rugby: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, by the festival organisers.

The well organised, large-scale event saw the club's U8/9s enter two teams. Both putting in strong performances against four teams each, doing the club and town proud with their efforts.

Sunday, May 8 saw Skipton RFC’s Minis and Juniors awards ceremony at the rugby club to round off the season in style. Every player’s efforts making teh decisions on award winners difficult in each of the three categories.

The Players' Player award, as voted for by team mates, was won by Matilda Hunt. Cam Wright took Most Improved Player for consistent improvements throughout the season. Ben Hulena made it a clean sweep for his family at the awards by taking the Coaches' Player award for a remarkable demonstration of skill, dedication, understanding and learning.

Despite starting the season with minimal numbers, the team has gone from strength to strength, building on a fun-first, inclusive team ethos and continues to grow with new players always welcome.

Seeing the growth in confidence and bond between the players has been a highlight of the season for coaches Andrew Wright, Jimmy Anson and Kieran Taylor.

“Friendships exist between some players who know each other from school, but seeing the team come together as one, looking out for each other and making sure they all have fun together is inspiring.” said coach Andrew Wright.

He added: “The players' efforts and enjoyment make what we do easy. It’s a great time to be involved with the club, the energy and enthusiasm of the players being matched by an ambition to grow as one, across all ages.”

Age grade rugby is played in line with England RFU regulations, making a safe and fun environment for children of all ages getting involved in the sport explained coach Kieran Taylor.

“The safety of the children playing is our top priority, closely followed by making sure everyone is enjoying themselves! Adherence to regulations and guidelines from the RFU means we can help the players develop within the sport but also skills and fitness that can help outside of the game," he said.

Coach Jimmy Anson added: “The effort of these children is representative of the direction the club, from the men and women’s senior teams right through to those getting involved at a young age from Giraffe Sports.”

The club said Skipton RFC has seen a strong season at all levels. The men’s team rounded off their campaign with a mid-table Yorkshire three finish. The Roses demonstrating the essence of rugby with an incredible and inspiring second place finish in the women’s NC 3 league in their first league season. The success continued into the juniors with the U16s rounding off a successful season by winning the Under 16s Yorkshire Cup.

Whilst the season has ended and the group moves towards becoming the next U9/10s team from September, summer activities at Skipton Rugby Club for Mini & Juniors begin in a few weeks time in June.

Each age group is always accommodating new players, from 18 months - U16s via Skipton RFC affiliated Giraffe Sports and U7 upwards in alignment with the RFU age grade programme.

The club plays and practices at Sandylands Sports Centre which is often used for county matches, events and weddings, and the large clubhouse is available for functions.

Formed in 1874 just three years after the Rugby Football Union. The club was founded by Sir Matthew Wilson Baronet, MP and enjoyed plenty of early success, winning the coveted Yorkshire Cup three times between 1903 and 1912.

Having one of the biggest mini and junior sections in Yorkshire its ethos is in nurturing young talent and the safeguarding of youngsters is paramount.

Details are available from the coaches: Andrew Wright 07946 742437, Jimmy Anson 07717 883604, Kieran Taylor 07702 233119, or Facebook: @Skiptonrugbyu8u9s for age-specific queries, or @Skiptonrfc for general enquires.