As we pass the half-season mark and look ahead to what 2017 has in store, we take the opportunity to review progress across our Junior section and take in an impressive first few months.
"I have been hugely impressed by our performances across the board," says Danny Jones, Head of Junior Rugby. "All our coaches and players have worked hard and put in place a great foundation of skills to take forward through 2017. Along the way we have notched up some outstanding results and I would like to thank everyone from volunteer coaches to parents and players for their hard work, and also Diane and Colin for keeping everyone so well fed and watered.
"In the background with the help of Safeguarding Officer Andy Clarke we have been making sure our DBS records are up to date for around 100 of our coaches, so hats off to Andy too. And a massive well done to the Girls section, who continue to develop with an incredible five players selected for the Kent Under 15s Girls squad "
Here's a canter through each section from the Under 6s upwards...
Under 6s are having a fantastic introduction to rugby, in their first year at the club. Learning the basic skills of passing, running and tagging. With around 60-70 regularly turning up for training and 100 registered players in the group.
Under 7s hit the ground running in their first season of festival rugby, with all the players having opportunities to experience the highs and lows of festival matches by mid-season. One of the many highlights was a clean sweep of victories for all four teams travelling to Saracens in November. The festivals are proving a great challenge for the U7's and they look forward to a jam packed Spring schedule.
Under 8s are having a fantastic season with 100 children signed up for their last year of tag. Highlight of the season has been having 8 teams attend the Saracens festivals, braving the rain, and showing the true spirit of fair play and honesty all 8 squads being invited back.
Under 9s started Tackling this season and our 100+ boys and girls have taken to it with Relish. So far Unbeaten teams have gone to Warlingham, Sidcup, Guildford and Saracens (where 4 teams have been asked back for the finals). Focus on the rest of the year will be tackling safely and the many Festivals that come from March to the end of the Season.
Under 10s have really enjoyed getting stuck into rucking and mauling this season. They have equipped themselves well in the new world of ‘no winners’, scoring more tries than the majority of the teams that they have played against. In tournaments that measure performance against the RFU values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship, the Mighty Oaks spirit of play has held them in good stead coming out on top in tournaments such as Saracens (and still scoring more tries than their opponents!).
Under 11s are adapting well to the new RFU mixed ability format. We have been very competitive across the festivals through the first half of the season and even though there are no winners as such we are still winning a significant amount of our pool matches. What has been really encouraging is the players who formed our Kent development cup winning squad this season making the step up and playing in A/B festivals and doing really well. The new players this year have settled in well and competition for places across the board is now very strong - which is exactly what we want.
Under 12s are fielding three squads, the Blues, Golds and Stormers. The players are developing really well. Highlights of the season to date include winning the Cup at the Foxbury Festival for the sixth successive season, with a tense 10-5 win over Old Elthamians in the Final, and winning the Ealing Festival beating teams including Wasps, Rosslyn Park, London Welsh and Ealing.
Under 13s have had a mixed start to the season with performances ranging from lacklustre to highly skilled, exciting flair rugby. There are no competitions at this age group apart from the Kent Cup towards the end of the season. If the players can be confident in their abilities and play to their potential, then it should be an exciting competition.
Our Girls teams are now in their third season and keep growing in numbers and strength. Our Under 13s, last year's Kent Area 3 Cup champions, are honing their skills and are active participants of the Kent Round Robin festivals. Our Under 15s are becoming quite a formidable team, with 5 players having made the Kent squad this year, they are bringing new techniques back to the entire squad. We are delighted with the progress both teams are making throughout the season and are looking to the future where we will grow to have 3 girls teams, U13/U15/U18s
Under 14s have competed well against a variety of opposition so far this season, and are only 1 of 4 clubs in the county able to field 2 teams in the up and coming Kent cup. We are continuing to grow in numbers as a squad, currently with 43 registered playing members.
Under 15s have had a great season so far, winning the Met Kent Cup, beating Old Colfs 48-21 in the final. The U15B team have won the Dev Kent Cup and will now go on to compete in the Kent Bowl Quarter Finals. The U15A's are through to the Kent Cup Quarter Final, where they face Westcombe Park at the end of Feb. The squad continues to grow with 44 players currently registered, the only club in Kent at this age group to enter 2 teams in the Kent Cup.
Academy We are all absolutely delighted with how the U16s and U17s have integrated and bonded together to form one Academy squad - playing a number of successful games together, including an outstanding tour to the Somme. The U17s have successfully qualified for the National Cup Competition, whilst the U16s are through to the Kent Cup Competition. Well done and good luck to all concerned.