TWO coachloads of Ciren Minis players and supporters, along with a fleet of cars, made the journey to Cleve RFC on Sunday  – and returned with one prestigious county title.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of county finals day was the overall victory of Chris Thorn’s U9s squad.

They won through to the cup final, thanks to a ‘silver’ try victory over Stow in a semi final match that was drawn 1-1. The Ciren team went through courtesy of scoring the first try by Jack Thorn. And they owed a lot to great tackling from Finn McKenna, Thorn and Joe Pauling and stout defence from Nathanial Burr and Ollie Wade. 

In the final against the hosts Cleve, who had gone through the entire season unbeaten, the U9s put in an inspired performance.

Some determined tackling kept the big Bristol team on the back foot, while it was Ciren’s greater skill and pace that helped claim the cup 3-2, thanks to tries from Ollie Woodward, Joe Pauling, and Max Pattison.

There were tense moments when Cleve pulled back a two-try deficit and some big hits were needed from Ben Woodcock, Jimmy Thompson, Pattison and Pauling before Pattison scorched away to  score the winner.

There were wild scenes on the final whistle, as players from all the other Ciren age groups swarmed on to the pitch to join in the celebrations.

Elsewhere, all the other red & black age group teams from U8 to U12 performed with great skill and commitment.

The U8s ‘tag’ team led by Rich Evans and Martin Mullin were up against favourites Stow in the cup semi final and despite a display full of skill and vigour, the boys lost out by 10 tries to 8. Stow went on to win the final comfortably.

The U8s contrived to lose the third-place play off game against Chosen Hill 7-6 having been in a winning position.

However, the boys have made real progress this year and are now looking forward to full contact rugby next season.

The U10s were unlucky to lose their plate semi final match 3-2 against Old Pats.

However, coach Rez was thrilled that the squad fought back to claim third place with a 3-1 victory in the play-off match.

Overall, the squad have developed extremely well, particularly as a number of them picked up a rugby ball for the first time only this season.

The U12s led by club chairman Tim Thompson put in a battling performance against Hucclecote in their plate semi final, but eventually lost out, before they turned in another doughty performance to draw their play-off game (and share third place) with Old Bristolians.

Dave Shrimpton’s U11s team were also in their plate competition and the boys came successfully through their semi before falling at the last hurdle.

Chairman Thompson reflected on ‘a great day out for the club’, which confirmed Cirencester as one of the leading mini/youth rugby clubs in the county.

Next up for the Minis is the ‘Onesie’ tour to Somerset/Bath at the end of April, with all age group teams entered in the prestigious Bath Festival at the Recreation Ground on Sunday, April 27.