Under 11s at Great Tew

Under 11s Rugby & Camping Weekend

With the traditional Barnes Under 11 rugby tour to northern France sadly not possible again this year due to Covid, we alighted on an alternative of going camping nearer home, with rugby against local clubs. So, equipped with the essentials of sleeping bags, a few beers, Court room props (see later) and rugby kit we ventured on Friday evening in late June to that well-known wilderness of Chipping Norton, and the territory of Beckhams, Clarksons and Soho Farmhouse! Our tents – 31 in all, one for each family – were just about ready for us, thanks to camping organisers from Campfire Wild Adventures.

The traffic out of London may have snarled up the timing of a few people’s Friday evening pizza orders, but everyone found their tent and settled to relax in our surrounds of the Great Tew Estate and acres of rolling parkland with views across the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire. Camp fires were lit and the youngsters took to softball, cricket and football.

The next morning an impressive array of breakfasts quickly appeared on the fires, as the red kites patrolled above, and soon all were fed and off to Chipping Norton rugby club, who happily had opened their club for us and provided pitches. They didn’t have an U11 team, so our three Barnes teams played some fast, skillful but competitive ready4rugby matches amongst themselves – all ending in close results and much humour at the expense of the referees, and an impromptu kicking competition.

Saturday afternoon was an opportunity for players to show different skills, in  bushcraft activities, lighting and building campfires to cook a few marshmallows, building shelters and then  testing how waterproof they could make them, and stealth games in the woods. For most adults, the pretty local pub seemed a suitable alternative. After BBQ food, a highlight for many may have been the initiation to the evening tradition of a tour Court room, with very funny cameos from our judge, prosecutor and court clerk, not to mention court bailiff Alice who took to her duties with gusto! Judge David L. presided, sometimes even remembering his legal training and actually asking the opinion of the juries, who delivered a surprisingly high 100% conviction rate!


Sunday morning saw more rugby at Witney RFC. It was great that they turned out two U11 teams to play us in a round of ready4rugby matches, with the Barnes teams showing impressive mastery of the format used in this covid-ravaged season, with great running lines and support.

Then a bunch of very tired Under 11s were off back home, with a few intrepid wild swimmers stopping for more adventure in the Thames on the way home.

So thanks to many who helped organise, supervise and played their roles, as well as the two rugby clubs where we played. All in all, while it may not have been the experience of France and the WW1 battlefields, a great time was had by all and the covid-safe camping format was ideal, with some fantastic rugby played and a chance for lots of outdoor time and activities with friends: a well deserved remedy after months of lockdowns for a fantastic group of players.

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