AS THE 2011/12 campaign settles into its close season, Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club can reflect on a superb year for the minis.
The club operates a mixed ability team policy within the minis, unlike many other clubs in the region, which makes the excellent results for the season so much more pleasing.
Without a doubt the highlight of the season has been the success of the under-10s squad, who won the Prima Tigers Cup, beating off stiff competition from club teams in Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
After triumphing in the regional qualifying tournament at Swaffham, Bury Under-10s won their quarter and semi-finals at Leicester Tigers’ famous Welford Road ground before returning to win a thrilling match against Derbyshire team Melbourne in front of a packed house.
“Bury Under-10s squad had an amazing season,” said head coach David Mountford.
“The squad also went on to win all competitions throughout the rest of the season.”
That included victories at the Cambridge and North Walsham festivals, where every one of the Bury squad played a part, followed by a convincing win against Suffolk rivals Ipswich in the final of their festival.
“It has been a great season from a brave and talented squad, who are always keen to welcome new players whatever their experience,” Mountford concluded.
Like the under-10s, Bury’s under-7 side also enjoyed an exceptional season, as, led by Mike Berry, they went on to claim victories in all four of the festivals they entered.
“We have had an exceptional season,” said Berry.
“Victories in all four of the festivals entered was a tremendous achievement and that was down to the strong commitment from parents and coaches, as well of course as the children.”
Meanwhile, the under-12s, led by new head coach Shaun Wildey, in their last year of minis, managed to win two of the five festivals they entered this season, including the highlight of winning the Bury Festival. The second of success of the campaign came at the North Walsham Festival where the club went the whole competition without conceding a try.
For the under-8s, this season saw membership numbers swell to a squad of 47 highly-enthusiastic players, the largest in the minis, which created its own problem of ensuring competitive game time for all the players.
However, The coaching staff, led by head coach Justin Cain solved the dilemma by selecting four mixed ability teams, who rotated to play competitive matches, including at the memorable end-of-season tour to Worksop.
For the under-9s, this season marked the transition from tag rugby to contact and despite the trepidation of the squad they went on to win at least 65 per cent of their games.
“We took some hard knocks and suffered some momentary individual confidence lapses, but the important thing was that every player got back up and got stuck in when called upon to do so” said head coach Jonathan Ellender,
“We will no doubt be back next season to build on and hone the skills we’ve learned and with some dedication and conviction, collect some much converted silverware of our own.”
Like the other age groups, the under-11s ran two equal, mixed ability squads throughout the season with relative success including finishing runners up in the North Walsham Festival, narrowly losing to Wymondham A team in the final.
The highlight for head coach Rob Hasselder was that two of the squad, Tommy Freeman and Johan Hasselder, were selected through their schools to play for the Independent Schools (Barbarians) Midlands Region team with Tommy subsequently selected for the Midlands touring team to Ireland.