ALMOST 100 keen rugby players have been taking part in festivals for secondary-school boys this month. 

The festivals are being organised and hosted by the Chobham club, who are thrilled to nurture the lads’ interest in the sport.

Scarlet & Golds’ president Nigel Heslop said: “Nearly 100 boys have been running around in the semi-darkness behaving sensibly, obeying authority, co-operating, being polite and respectful and having fun – that’s a good description of Tuesday evenings in November at the rugby club. 

“Fireworks are over, darkness arrives at school finishing time so there’s no chance for youngsters to play outside and Christmas is too far in the future for Santa hats and the lift all that gives to the spirits.

“But our Fowlers Wells ground has enough floodlights to make an oasis of bright light in the dark. And there’s enough room for about 100 youngsters to play for their school in our festivals. 

“Festival rugby is the equivalent of jumpers-for-goalposts football – played for fun, with no over-celebration of winning.

“Our festivals are for emerging rugby schools. These are not traditional rugby-playing schools but mainly state schools whose teachers give up their free time to organise practice and get together a team to play for their school. 

“The standard is level but highly competitive. 

“Playing for your school with your mates is a special feeling.

“The variant of the game played in our festivals is full-contact, cross-pitch, ten-a-side. 

“We can get three half-pitches lit up. That’s enough room for six or seven schools to play four 15-minute games. 

“The kids start at 4pm, have a snack and a drink and get off home in time for tea.”

Taking part this month have been  St John the Baptist School (Woking), The Winston Churchill School (St John’s), Chertsey High School, Salesian School (Chertsey), Heathside School (Weybridge), Charters School (Sunningdale), Tomlinscote School (Frimley) and Collingwood College (Camberley).

Heslop said: “We run a festival for each year group from Year 7 to Year 10. 

“Year 11 have mock GSCEs, so their attention is, quite rightly, elsewhere. 

“At the end of February, we’ll have a series of festivals for secondary-school girls.

“And in March we’ll have a series of mixed touch-rugby festivals for primary schools,  featuring even more players. 

“All the festivals are free to enter. It’s enough for our volunteers to see legions of youngsters having a good time, getting exercise and enjoying our sport.”