The Middlesex U12 festivals help young players develop their rugby and bridge the divide between mini and youth rugby. The festival format meets the RFU age grade rugby requirements and provides a better rugby experience for teams and players as well as helping facilitate a the transition of players to the Youth Leagues at U13 with players experience longer matches and the type of discipline that they will need as they move to the youth age grade rugby structures. Since the format was introduced, U12s playing for Middlesex clubs have progressed to youth level with greater strength and skill, with many winning their respective leagues.
The U12 festival format is unique with three weekend qualifying rounds played through the season ahead of a finals day in March at Wasps FC ground at Twyford Avenue. Each round comprises two games of 30 minutes played as a three-way fixture. The results of these games are compiled and points awarded.
This creates a structure, which, when the rounds are completed, forms the finals day play. The U12 festival is designed to ensure that teams playing against each other are equally balanced to ensure appropriate competition for teams of all abilities. The format is modelled on the system used by World Rugby (IRB) for international 7s and means that the teams are more closely matched and the rugby more fulfilling for all involved.
The final positions of clubs helps to establish the league entries for clubs choosing to enter the Herts/Middx League structures at U13.
Middlesex Rugby, in conjunction with London Irish Academy, uses the U12 Championship to spot players to be invited to the Developing Player Programme. Last year this resulted in 60 players being invited to the trials held at the end of the season for the Team Middlesex U13 county squad.
2017 – 2018 Dates
The entry process starts in September with clubs formally entering their teams followed by the draw at the beginning of October. The three weekend rounds start in November.
Round 1: Sunday 12th November 2017 (fall back date 19th November)
Round 2: Sunday 10th December 2017 (fall back date 21st January 2018)
Round 3: Sunday 14th January 2018 (Fall back date 21st January)
Round 4: Sunday 11th February 2018 (Fall back date 25th February)
Middlesex Finals Day (Wasps): Sunday 18th March 2018
Coaching and refereeing
The success of these festivals makes them the highlight of the mini rugby season, and a testament to the efforts and effectiveness of the coaching and the excellent work of the Middlesex referees panel. Every club is required to provide ELRA qualified referees on entry for these festivals and consequently we are seeing fewer injuries and better games. It has really helped clubs develop this vital area of the game and provides a pipeline for future refereeing talent to emerge into the youth and senior versions of game.
If you would like to be involved, or you or your company can help with the organisation or funding of these festivals, please get in touch with Nicky Fielder at the County Office, email: firstname.lastname@example.org