Two schools coached by Cramlington Rockets have secured regional titles.
The regional finals of the RFL North East Champion Schools took place at the home of Newcastle Thunder, with a number of schools vying for their respective age group crowns.
Champion Schools is the world’s biggest knock-out competition, open to every secondary school in England, Scotland and Wales with the finals taking place in London alongside the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
With match action for Year 8s and Year 10s on the Kingston Park pitch, it was Cramlington Learning Village (CLV) who overcame Whitburn Academy in the first final of the day.
The Cramlington school coached by RFL Club of the Year nominee, Cramlington Rockets, enjoyed an unbeaten run to the final and entered the match in confident fashion.
All eyes were on the first semi-final against Redhouse School (Stockton) earlier in the day.
In a nervous opening exchange, both teams traded mistakes but it was Cramlington who settled quicker and went on to win the game comfortably.
Their opponents in the final, Whitburn disposed of a spirited Marden Bridge Middle side, so confidence was high.
This was apparent as Whitburn started stronger with some good carries through the middle of the field and the CLV looked unsettled, knocking on over the try line three times within the first half.
Sadly for Whitburn, though, CLV went back to basics and their powerhouse forwards lead well from the front and created space for the backs to exploit.
It was a great effort from Whitburn but it was not enough to stop the CLV steam train to lift the trophy.
Next up was Morpeth-based King Edward VI Year 10s who had made the final with a perfect defensive record having conceded no points in any of their fixtures.
Whitburn Academy and then Whitley Bay High stood in their way, but despite pressure, their perfect defensive record remained intact in both fixtures to add a second trophy for the Rockets’ coaches.
It capped a tremendous day for the schools and Rockets Community, the club’s community arm that had worked with the players since September.
Having lifted the U12, U14 and U16 North East club titles in the summer, it is arguably no surprise to learn that 28 of the 34 players across both squads are already on the books of the Rockets.
Rockets community manager Steven Beaty said: “I would just like to congratulate all the schools who attended the finals. Every year the standard of North East schools rugby gets higher and we know that is heavily down to all the great teachers we have driving the game forward.”
“As a club, Cramlington Rockets believe that Champion Schools is a fantastic way of transitioning players from the schools to the club.
“Within the two squads over 80 per cent of the children play at the Rockets, and we know this wouldn’t of been possible if weren’t for competitions such as this one.”
Both sides continue their quest to reach the London finals in August by progressing to the last 16 of the national competition and will be eagerly awaiting the draw which takes place in January.
To find out more, visit cramlingtonrockets.co.uk or find them on social media.