The event was organised by Collegiate club members James Lee and Henry Smith and both teams included players from their Colts sides, alongside those involved in senior rugby for two to three years. For many Colts, this was their first experience of playing outside age grade rugby and the chance to play with and against older players, saw them gaining the confidence to move into senior rugby over the next 12 months. Both teams also included returning students, keeping links with them for the future.
The club put on a pre match hotpot for parents, supporters and representatives from the Lancashire CB and the large crowd were entertained by a highly competitive match with both teams playing exciting, open rugby despite the damp conditions. All this happened, despite the train taking the Southport contingent to the game breaking down en route, and the game having to be moved away from the main club pitch in front of the cricket pavilion, due to the possibility of damage to the cricket outfield.
The whole afternoon was a fantastic advert for what can be done by clubs thinking outside the box. Dave Angwin, the chairman of Collegiate, said: “This was a fantastic initiative, organised by James Lee and his group, and we need to think how we can replicate it in the future.”
Jason Keating, the Southport 1st team and coach of the Under 21s on the day, was also impressed with the whole event. As well as the Colts players, he was able to draw on students home from university who hadn’t played for the club since going away. A number have made themselves available for the club and one in particular had stopped playing at university, but has now committed to the club for the rest of the season.
As a postscript, Collegiate 3rds, who had to withdraw from their league earlier in the season due to a lack of numbers, were able to select 20 players for a game on the 29th December, with nine of those players from the U21 team.