Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

Eastern Rhinos RL from Colchester received the Fair Play award in the under 11s age group at this year's event
Eastern Rhinos RL from Colchester received the Fair Play award in the under 11s age group at this year's event
Rhinos Challenge event breaks more records in 2017
18 May 2017, 11:43
By Dan Phillis
Leeds Rhinos Foundation and ESF Events broke more records at the 2017 Rhinos Challenge weekend as 150 teams took part in over 500 fixtures at the biggest ever single junior rugby league festival.
The Rhinos Challenge event, which is hosted at Butlin's Resort in Skegness, reached new heights in Rugby League participation for a single event, bringing together over 50 club community Rugby League clubs and 1500 players from across the country.

The two-day festival of rugby, hosting teams from under-7s to under-15s, provides an all-inclusive tour experience with tournament guests staying on site in accommodation provided by Butlin's and playing fixtures at three local venues around the town.

As part of the experience for touring clubs, the weekend also culminates in a spectacular presentation in two of the entertainment venues which was this year attended by Leeds Rhinos stars Kallum Watkins, Jimmy Keinhorst, Josh Walters and Josh Jordan-Roberts.

Speaking at his first Rhinos Challenge, Leeds Rhinos star Jimmy Keinhorst said: "I was really impressed, it's a really well organised event with plenty of junior players taking part and some really good rugby being played.

"To have a festival that attracts so many clubs and have everyone buying into it with a great venue is fantastic. There are all the types of activities going on at Butlin's and incorporating that into a rugby league festival, is a real winner really."

With 6,000 people and 150 teams taking part across the weekend, Rhinos Challenge 2017 was the biggest single event in its five-year history.

Tournament organiser Martyn Young from ESF Events said: "It's been a fantastic year at the Rhinos Challenge, with more teams than ever joining us on tour at Butlin's Skegness. The teams travelled from all over the country to join us and the atmosphere, both at the pitches and back at Butlin's in the evenings, has been fantastic.

"The initial feedback from the teams couldn't be better, so a huge thank you to everyone involved who helped to make the Rhinos Challenge an experience the players, coaches and spectators will remember together for year to come."

With the tour now the biggest junior rugby league festival in the UK, Rhinos Challenge every year attracts teams from all over the country with this year's event bringing teams from Oxfordshire, Essex, Cumbria as well as the more traditional rugby league playing regions of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Paul Arnison, Head Coach for Crosfields ARLFC Under 8s from Warrington, said: "The main reason for us coming was for the parents to come and get to know each other but also the kids as well, so actually it's probably the stuff we are doing away from the pitch this weekend that's more important then what goes on at the pitches.

For the first time in 2017, Rhinos Challenge saw clubs rewarded for sportsmanship and fair play as part of Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Rhinos Respect Campaign to promote positive touchline behaviour.

Leeds Rhinos Foundation Rugby League Development Plan Manager Leon Crick commented on the awards:

"One aspect we at Leeds Rhinos Foundation want to promote for junior rugby especially is creating positive environments for the players to play in, so the introduction of fair play awards for the clubs was a good incentive for coaches, parents and players to lead by example and adhere to more positive touchline behaviour and conduct around the pitches which has definitely been achieved this year."

For pictures of this year's event and videos visit the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Facebook page.
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