Dalziel rugby festival celebrates 25 years

Dalziel Dragons with Glasgow Warriors player Tommy Spinks

Dalziel Dragons with Glasgow Warriors player Tommy Spinks

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Around 1,000 young rugby players and spectators from all over Scotland gathered for Dalziel’s annual youth rugby festival on Saturday.

This year’s event was particularly notable as it marked the 25th anniversary of the festival established by club stalwart, the late Alan Calder.

Alan, who died in 2008, established the event as a way of introducing youngsters - the ‘backbone of tomorrow’s club rugby’ - to the sport.

This year some 40 clubs, including touring sides from Northern Ireland and Chester, participated in the showcase tournament which now dedicated to Alan’s memory.

Among those at Dalziel Park were Glasgow Warriors star Tommy Spinks and SRU Council member Jim Stevenson.

Teams from Primary 3 to under-18 competed for the honours at their respective levels and the prestigious Alan Calder Trophy for under-18s was won by hosts Dalziel.

Festival convenor Graham Calder said: “The 25th festival anniversary was only made possible by the huge efforts and hard work of a vast number of people.

“The day brings all hands to the pump, from hardened senior players selling raffle tickets to mums baking cakes and committee men flipping burgers.

“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to all who helped both over the weekend and, indeed, over the past two and a half decades.

“Teamwork and the sense of fun and camaraderie has been the very lifeblood of the event since 1991. We’re sure it will be the driving force for the next 25 years.”

This year’s winners were - P1/P2, Dalziel; P3, Hamilton; P4, Strathaven; P5, Northern Ireland Civil Service; P6, Hamilton Sharks; P7, Biggar; S1, Chester Warriors; S2, Dalziel; Under-15, Ayr; Under-16, East Kilbride; Under-18, Dalziel.

Meanwhile, on Friday the schools’ festival for S1 and S2 took place.

Duncanrig triumphed in the top tier, Bellshill were victors in tier 2 and Chryston won tier 3.

Organiser and rugby development officer Darren Moon said: “Once again, all the teams who participated provided a feast of entertaining rugby, with many big tackles and tremendous tries. Well done to all.”