Having had a couple of disrupted seasons, we aimed to return to full strength, and the Minis, Juniors, and Colts have done so – playing with the highest standards and in the original spirit. This season we’ve had 450 Minis taking part in Saturday Morning training (140 in under 5s and 6s combined), 200 Juniors and Colts training on Sundays, with 140 volunteer coaches supported by Jack Heald, Cam Ruddock and team. The club has also seen an uplift in the number of girls at both training and tournaments after direct involvement from GB rugby sevens star Meg Jones.
Before entering the season, we held sprint sessions led by Jade Johnson and Anson Henry, both Beijing and Athens Olympic athletes. The specialist training helped many players to improve their agility and speed approaching the return to contact rugby.
This year all ages above Under 7 got a taste for competitive action; playing matches with smiles on faces, with the Barnes flowing style of play and respect for the opposition and officials. One particular highlight of the season included the London Irish Festival, where almost 300 players and parents watched a Premiership game after playing their own respective tournaments.
Outstanding Team Performances
The Under 12 A side were runners up in the top tier of the Surrey Waterfall Cup. This was the first time any team in the club had reached this level, only falling short to Battersea A in the final. They were undefeated up until that point – a stellar effort from the whole team. The Under 12 B team also made it to a Waterfall Cup final in the intermediate level, losing to Sutton and Epsom and the Under 12 C side, made it 44 boys competing in the Surrey Finals’ Day overall, losing to Hazelmere B.
In the Under 13s, the A team became Waterfall Cup Intermediate level champions with the B team losing finalists in their respective tournament. All players showed real progression as a group, promising many more trophies to come in the future.
Older age groups, namely the U14s, U15s and U16s, all played many matches on a tight schedule, often playing matches on consecutive Sundays and getting into the swing of competitive rugby once again. For all teams, there were many great successes but no major honours in Waterfall Tournaments this year.
This has been the Colts best ever season, winning tier 2 of the Quins Cup in the spring and losing finalists in the equivalent Surrey Waterfall competition before Christmas – with the help of many U19 who had not quite left for University. We say goodbye to 10 of our U18s this season as they move onto bigger things in Men’s rugby, and hope to see some of these fantastic players as part of the new U22 squad being created to encourage a return to club rugby during holidays. Many of this age group have played for Barnes Youth since they were minis and it has been great to see so many players blossom into huge talent over the years.
Hal Kennedy, current Colts player, was selected for the U17 Harlequins squad this season and has played a number of games against top opposition like Gloucester, Saracens, and Exeter Academy teams. Hal will continue as a Harlequin next year as an U18, whilst also playing for the Colts once again.
Four former Minis played for our Senior Men’s sides during May 2021: Hector Price, Will Staples, Jack Seymour, and Sam Reaves. They became the first players to “Bridge the Gap” from our Youth programmes to the Senior levels. There will surely be more players making this transition in the future.
After a year off from our regular, prolific tours, we were anticipating an exciting year of action-packed trips across Europe this season. Tours have become a huge part of the Club’s Values and family atmosphere and it is fantastic to have had over 440 tourists this year.
220 Under 7-10 players and adults, travelled to Somerset for many great performances against local and Welsh sides. Parents got to enjoy the real Bucks Fizz entertainment in the evening – the band!
160 Under 11 – 13 tourists went to our friends in Laon and for the first time in 10 years of touring, won the Cup as a touring side. A phenomenal effort, as we also hosted Laon Rugby Club gillerati in the Barnes Clubhouse for a Six Nations day that lasted long into the night.
A few U14s toured to Frankfurt with a combined squad with the Bank of England in that age group.
30 Under 15s travelled to Gibraltar for the first time in our history, again combining with the Bank of England team, for a win over the local side. The team enjoyed a few hours of bonding on the beach and paddle boarding in the Mediterranean following the match.
30 Under 16s toured to Jersey, visiting the high performance training centre used by the British and Irish Lions, enjoying Rib-boat rides, and a great game against the Jersey Reds.
Contribution to Community
Jo Robinson led the Ukraine appeal, for the family of Under 14 Alex Ovchinnik, whose father was stuck in Ukraine at the time and thankfully has now made it home. The Barnow faithful sprang into action filling 4 trucks with essential humanitarian supplies and raising over £11k.
Barnes Youth parents and players have raised funds for the Barnes Big Build, to contribute to the amazing work that the club does for our wider community and to the lovely Barn Elms Sports Trust facility – an oasis to many in lockdown. In August 2022, we will build an outdoor gym and fitness trail for community use.
Our Second Hand Kit returns raised £400 for the Atlas Foundation.
The U13s set the planning wheels in motion for a “Rugby Tour to Kenya” in April 2024. The objective is to raise over £10,000 for Kenya-focused charities, the Atlas Foundation and the Denmark-based international NGO, the Human Practice Foundation. The vision is to support the development of our young players in London and Nairobi both in the sport of rugby and as responsible global citizens aware of global environmental and social issues. Rugby matches will be played with local clubs and schools in Kenya as well as running joint rugby training sessions with children in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.
A huge thank you to all of the volunteer parents, from coaches, to safeguarding, to festival organisers who have helped us make this a very, very special season for all.
Article Contributed by Tom Williams U17