This Sunday, 16th October, at Allianz Park, the home ground of Premiership Champions, Saracens, over 400 “Mini” rugby players aged seven to ten years will be taking part in The Oakman Cup, one of the largest independent rugby festivals of its type in the UK.

The Festival is the brain-child of Peter Borg-Neal, the CEO of Oakman Inns & Restaurants, a successful independent pub and restaurant company with 17 family friendly pubs, restaurants and hotels across seven counties in the Midlands and Southern England. The RFU clubs sponsored by their local Oakman Inn are sending four teams to play at the prestigious venue in what is hoped to be both an inspirational and exciting day of experiential rugby.

Peter Borg-Neal, who has very fond memories of his own time as a player with several clubs and as First Team Coach, Director of Rugby and then Chairman of Tring Rugby Club, said: “We really enjoyed seeing the children have a huge amount of fun at this event last year and are delighted to be putting in on again. They were clearly delighted to be able to represent their club at The Allianz. Aside from all the fun rugby is a great way to build up the character of young people. It develops Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship in a safe environment that places the emphasis on competitive performance rather than competitive outcome.”

During the day, there will be plenty of other activities for the kids to burn off excess energy including coaching sessions, an inflatable bouncy castle and assault courses.

Each player will receive a Goody Bag on arrival, a picnic lunch and will be presented with a Gold Medal at the Closing Ceremony.

The RFC clubs taking part are: Tring, Beaconsfield, St Albans, Witney, Abingdon, Leamington, Wallingford, Towcestrians and Royston and the young players are all looking forward to the opportunity to play on Allianz Park’s unique all-weather 4G pitch. The children play a form of tag rugby that does not involve tackling, but the removal of a Velcro tag from the ball carrier at the time. They play for a maximum of fifty minutes across a series of games and will be learning the key elements, namely catching, passing, evading, going forward with the ball and supporting the ball carrier.

Oakman Inns’ Operations Director, Alex Ford, a lifelong RFC club player, said: “In a funny sort of way, this day lies at the heart of our business ethos. We try to provide all our customers with a great and memorable experience, one that they want to share and repeat. If we can give these kids a great experience today, then perhaps it will stay in their memory for a long time and they will want to continue and repeat it for their club – and, who knows, perhaps even their country!”

Edward Taylor