Champion Schools grows from strength to strength

The world’s largest Rugby League’s knockout competition, the Carnegie Champion Schools tournament, has continued to grow in 2010 with a record breaking 29,837 young people taking part.

This year the Carnegie Champion Schools involved over 500 schools across the UK, including 1,572 boys’ teams and 216 girls’ teams.

The RFL’s National Development Manager Andy Harland believes the Carnegie Champion Schools is one of the major success stories in British sport and is looking forward to more schoolchildren participating next year.

“The Carnegie Champion Schools has continued to grow and develop at a rapid rate and has given thousands of students the chance to participate in Rugby League,” said Harland of a tournament which often gives young people their first taste of the sport.

“The RFL, in partnership with English Schools Rugby League, re-launched the competition in 2002 with a total of 5,168 boys taking part – and no girls. Since then, the competition has developed and expanded across the UK and this year we have had nearly 30,000 girls and boys taking part.

“The Carnegie Champion Schools allows young players to enjoy competing together, learn new skills and generate memories.

“There is also the excitement that comes from the association with Carnegie Challenge Cup final – not only do all finalists get to watch the climax to Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious knockout competition after playing in the finals day, the Year 7 boys’ final is actually played as a curtain-raiser at Wembley.”

The remarkable success of schools in the South of England in this year’s competition is highlighted by the presence in the Year 8 boys’  and Year 8 girls’ finals with teams from Brentwood County High and Feltham High School. In 2009-2010 a total of 245 boys and girls teams from the South have gone head-to-head in local festivals and fixtures, all vying for a place in the coveted London and the South East regional finals.

Over the past seven years 1,003 boys teams (and 70 girls teams since 2008) drawn from over 100 schools across 10 County Sports Partnerships in the South have been engaged in the Carnegie Champion Schools scheme.

The Champion Schools tournament has played an important role in the development of British talent with many former participants having gone on to forge very successful professional careers at Super League and International level. Famous names include Bobbie Goulding, Terry O’Connor, Phil Clarke, Kevin Sinfield and more recently Sam Tomkins.

The finals of the Carnegie Champion Schools tournament will be played at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex on Friday August 26 and the first match kicks off at 11.15am. The Year 7 boys’ final between Temple Moor (Leeds) and Dowdales (Barrow) on Saturday August 27 kicks off at 12.35pm at Wembley Stadium.

Schools competing in the finals include Castleford High (Wakefield), Settle Middle and Settle High (North Yorkshire), Feltham (London), Brentwood (Essex), Outwood Grange (Wakefield), Holy Cross (Chorley), Brooksbank (Halifax), St Benedicts (Whitehaven) and St Peter & St Paul (Halton).

For further details on the Carnegie Champion Schools please visit www.carnegiechampionschools.co.uk or contact 0844 477 7113.

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