Rhinos building for the future via link with Premiership giants

Haringey Rhinos’ youth section continues to go from strength to strength after the announcement that they have joined the Saracens Club Partnership Programme.

The Rhinos’ division has existed for little more than a year, since September 2011, when the aim was to recruit an Under-13 boys’ team.

However, interest and participation has grown so quickly that they had 60 children aged five to 16 playing rugby by the end of the season in April, and they finished the campaign with four teams from Under-eights to Under-16s.

This season the club are hoping to have 125 young people playing rugby every Sunday, with teams in six age groups.

And, with that in mind, they have linked up with Guinness Premiership outfit Saracens, who will be moving to their new home at Barnet Copthall Stadium in January.

As a Saracens Partner Club, Haringey will gain access to competitions, festivals and camps for youth and mini teams, coach education programmes for youth and senior coaches and ticketing and community group discounts.

The progress in the Haringey youth ranks was exemplified at the weekend as the Under-16s travelled to Finchley – who play in the division above them in the Herts/Middlesex League – and triumphed 22-21.

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The Rhinos were so keen to get stuck into the friendly fixture that they kicked off while the referee was on the side-lines removing his tracksuit – and they maintained that intensity throughout the match.

There was a new look to the Haringey side as a reshuffle resulted in Imam Ortec playing at No10, Uzi Abbas making an appearance at 13 and Anthony Barry enjoying a spell back in the forwards.

But coach Tom Sykes’ faith was well rewarded as each player stepped up to the mark and seized their opportunity – a factor which is likely to mean plenty of competition for places going forward.

It was a rollercoaster affair as the two sides traded scores, and each time the Rhinos crossed the line, Finchley responded with the utmost vehemence.

Ethan Barnes touched down twice, while Ahmet Kobra and Bence Balough also crossed the line, and Hazis Krasniqi kicked a conversion – but some sloppy positional work from the Rhinos kept allowing their hosts to hit back.

Despite that, the Haringey defence stood up well, holding up no less than three tries through the ferocious efforts of the pack, which was spearheaded by Kobra.

The scrummaging from both sides left much to be desired, and the fluidity of this area was largely due to the referee and the concentration of the prop forwards, with new boy Reece Dempster standing out in the front row.

Meanwhile, Balough’s incisive running and electrifying acceleration caused chaos in the Finchley ranks.

Haringey’s lead was cut to one point in the final seconds, setting their nerves jangling, but the final whistle went almost immediately to end a day of quality rugby – and add another notch to the Rhinos youngsters’ belts.

Anyone interested in getting involved with Haringey Rhinos’ youth programme can email haringeyyouthrugby@gmail.com or visit the website www.haringeyrhinos.com/youth