Rugby League made its first appearance in the London Youth Games this week, at the Tag Rugby League Finals Day at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
Over 300 children from 31 of the 32 boroughs of Greater London participated. Each borough was represented by the winning school from their local qualifying festival earlier in the year. Whilst final participation numbers will be reported at the end of the academic year, its estimated that over 500 London primary schools have participated in rugby league as a result of the partnership this year.
The London Youth Games is Europe's largest youth sports festival, with a full of events taking place over 9 months and including both School and Community Competitions across 30 different sports. Rugby League has joined the list of sports for the first time this year, and the London Rugby League Foundation were delighted to support by managing the delivery of the finals day.
Dan Steel, Managing Director of the Foundation said “This is a really big step for Rugby League in London, and we were delighted to partner with the London Youth Games Foundation deliver the Primary Tag Rugby League finals day. We jumped at the opportunity to introduce rugby league to primary schools across the whole of Greater London, and we’re really excited by the number of schools that have embraced Rugby League and the enjoyment the children have taken from playing the sport.”
In addition to a full day of rugby league, the children had the opportunity to meet England mascot Grubber and pose for a photo with the Rugby League Challenge Cup. Former England captain and Leeds Rhinos legend, Kevin Sinfield, was also on hand to meet the children and hand out awards. He said “It’s fantastic to see so many boys and girls playing rugby league, and the skill level on show was really impressive. Thanks to London Youth Games Foundation for putting on such a good event, and supporting the development of the sport in London.”
The final four postions were closely contested between Blagowen (Bromely), Northwood (Wandsworth), Fairholme (Hounslow), and the eventual champions, Bishop Gilpin from the London Borough of Merton.