The Bowral Blacks U14s have won the 2015 Illawarra Rugby premiership, the first premiership for a Bowral Blacks junior team in 7 years.
At the beginning of the season teams in the Illawarra rugby competition were having difficulty fielding enough players to play a 15 a side tournament in the U14s age group.
In a bid to retain players and encourage this age group to play rugby the Illawarra clubs got together to solve the problem and created a new 7s competition for the 2015 season.
The new U14s competition was based loosely on the World Rugby 7s (http://www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series/), which involves a series of tournaments played throughout the season with points allocated according to placings at each tournament. The Premiership is then decided by total points across all 11 tournaments during the season.
Bowral Blacks U14s started the season with 6 players and as word got out that there was a 7s competition on offer the squad grew to 15. Some of the Blacks players came from other codes such as soccer and rugby league, and some boys had never picked up a rugby ball before.
Nick Combes, Bowral Blacks Junior President said, “We are all immensely proud of the boys. This is the first premiership the juniors have won in 7 years.
“The 7s tournament was the first of its kind in the Illawarra region. By adopting the 7s format we were able to not only resolve the problem of a lack of players and field a Bowral Blacks U14s team, but allowed all the clubs to retain and even attract more players that in the absence of a rugby team to play with might otherwise have tried other codes or been lost to rugby altogether.”
David Loiterton, Bowral Blacks U14s coach said, “We are all incredibly proud of the team, they’ve done brilliantly. All their hard work has paid off and the boys will remember this for a long time.
“I’m also really pleased because with the support of the other clubs in the region we managed to create and run an U14s competition at a time when it looked impossible. It’s a really positive achievement for this age group and maybe a hint as to how rugby can grow in the region. 7s is an easy game to learn, it’s fast, exciting for spectators and good fun for the players. And some of these players will then go on to play the 15 a side game.”
The tournament created a wonderful comradery between the clubs and players. For example after each tournament the clubs would often mix up the teams and play friendly 15 a side rugby just for fun.
Rugby 7s is rapidly becoming more and more popular around the world and in 2016 the sport will make its debut at the Rio Olympics.
Bowral Blacks will play host to the Southern Highlands 7s on October 3rd this year.
The full points tally can be accessed here: http://www.idru.com.au/en/junior-rugby