IT WOULD would take a lot to beat the drama of last weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but the on-pitch action at Salisbury Rugby Club’s annual mini festival on Sunday ran it very close.

With 990 children competing in 95 teams from a total of 11 clubs, the action was relentless and competition fierce across the age groups from under-seven through to Under-11.

Salisbury hosted players from around the region, with Andover, Devizes, Ellingham and Ringwood, Fordingbridge, Hungerford, Oakmeadians, Romsey, Supermarine, Wimborne and Winchester all turning out.

“This is a mixed-ability festival that stresses fair play and rugby’s core values,” said Ben O’Neill, an under-nines coach who led the organisation of this year’s festival.

"It’s so exciting to see the players building confidence and skills with each game and going home with a huge grin – though the medals around their neck does help too.”

He added: “Huge thanks go out to everyone who made this festival such a success. All the volunteers who set it up and run it, and the hundreds of parents turning out to spur on their children’s dreams of challenging for the World Cup in a generation’s time.”