Their quest for trophy winners began in March where throughout the region all schools were arranged into geographic areas so that each area had their own local champions. Raglan Primary won the Usk play-off and Malpas Park (the other finalists) the Bassaleg leg.
Last Saturday, the two came face-to-face in an exciting Grand Final, which was watched by a substantial crowd of more than 4,000 during the half time break of the Dragons v Edinburgh match. The dark horses of the competition Raglan VC Primary School were duly crowned Warburtons Challenge Trophy champions after defeating current holders, Malaps Park by three tries to two at Rodney Parade.
Mr. Phil Harrhy, rugby teacher at Raglan, beaming from ear to ear said, “I am delighted at our schools success, the children are absolutely thrilled to have played so well in such a high-profile competition. They were very excited at the prospect of playing at Rodney Parade anyway and to have played well enough to win the title was a real bonus and a moment none of them will ever forget”.
One of the Raglan team said that playing in the Warburtons Challenge Trophy was like, “being in the F.A. Cup final”, which incidentally was played on the same day. When you consider that the competition began more than three months ago and started off involving over 100 primary schools from every corner of the Region, you can see what he means!
The teams were presented with their individual trophies by Dragon stars Gareth Cooper & Richard Bryan with the winning Raglan team received their F.A. Cup-like Warburtons Challenge Trophy from tournament sponsors, Nicola Roberts of Warburtons. Mike Fitzgerald on behalf of Newport City Council presented the Most Valuable Player award to the impressive Rhys Long of Malpas Park.
Nicola, who was a keen spectator of the final, said, “Today’s Grand Final was a very fitting climax to a competition that has been a huge success from start to finish. The skills, teamwork and general standard was quite exceptional and I was very impressed with the way in which both sides worked as team. The level of sportsmanship too, was good to see and both teams were first class ambassadors for their schools and exactly what we encourage and why we are associated with the community activities around the Region”.
Mr Carl Sherlock, rugby teacher at Malpas Park commented, “it has been a top class competition again this year I am proud of my players as they did their best to try and regain the title. I would like to congratulate Raglan on their success. We already look forward to next year. Finally, I think I speak on behalf of the 4,000 strong crowd who watched the final today, a big thank you to the Dragons & Warburtons for making our pupils dreams come true and giving them a memory that will have a long lasting effect on their lives”.
The youngsters thought the day couldn’t get any better, but like Liverpool at the Millennium stadium, both teams performed a lap of honour at the final whistle and milked the cheers from the crowd on their way round.
Community Manager, Mike Sage was once again delighted with the success of the tournament, said, “it has been another great event, credit must go to all schools who participated, congratulations to Raglan on their final victory and last but by no means least, many thanks to Warburtons for their continued support”.