SUNDAY May 16 saw competitive rugby return to the Avenue for Wharfedale 12’s who took on rivals from the other side of the 3-Peaks, Kirkby Lonsdale.

In all previous meetings through the age groups, these sides had been evenly matched with Kirkby coming out on top in their last meeting.

Sunday had a large crowd with many parents watching. The boys did not disappoint and played scintillating rugby.

Kirkby started the game brightly with strong running from deep and scored after five minutes.

After gathering themselves, the young green machine commenced building pressure.

Excellent back row play meant Wharfedale dominated the ruck area and provide a platform for their half backs to take control. Strong, direct running from their forwards ensured ground was made and at the end of the first quarter, the Dale were leading three tires too one with their ball carriers crossing over.

The second quarter Kirkby rallied, with their strike runners again finding holes in the green line, crossing for a long distance try. The Kirkby forwards finding parity, the breakdown was hard fought, with both sides committing physically to the tackle and ruck area.

The second half was worthy of a gate fee.

Wharfedale increased ruck aggression and enjoyed putting together multiple phases. Responding quickly to increased back row pressure and dominant tackles from the Wharfedale forwards, their backs took advantage, scoring ten further tries in the second quarters.

These ranged from three in one corner from multiple passes, four in the opposite and two breakaways from handling errors brought about from defensive line speed as the heavens opened drenching the players and coaches.

The crowd took shelter in the stands. The atmosphere was like a traditional afternoon at the Avenue.

In a strange way the manner of victory was due to COVID-19 and non-contact training. While any rugby victory belongs to the forwards and several Wharfedale players who excelled in tackling, rucking and direct aggressive ball carrying.

The quick ball provided a spectacle of back play coached when non-contact was enforced by COVID and the children increased training on moving the ball.

Rugby values were on show at the final whistle and the Kirkby Lonsdale coach congratulated the Greens player huddle for excellent rugby.

The crowd however had the greatest treat, as community rugby had returned and put on an excellent spectacle which made it worth the wait.

Due to the pandemic, the difficulties for everyone have been enormous, but after the easing of lockdown restrictions from March 29, a sense of normality is finally returning.

The return of sport will be huge for the wellbeing of many, and with rugby back and kicking in Wharfedale, the fans can finally rejoice and return to the sport they love.

Overall, a great day for the young Wharfedale side who put on a fitting display for the returning fans, after months away.