The West Indies won the MX9s Preliminary Cup at St Albans Centurions on Sunday when they beat the South African Wild Dogs 26-10 in the final.
It was an excellent achievement for the Windies, who were comprised mainly of LHF Healthplan National League 3 and TotalRL.com Conference players, and coached by former Great Britain star Allan Hunte.
Ten teams battled it out at Woollams in sweltering heat, with the Windies seeing off hosts St Albans, junior club Haringay Hornets, and Fullerians union club from Watford, but their thrilling 18-all draw with NG7s, the excellent Sevens experts from Brunel University, saw them win Group 2 on points difference.
The South Africans, put together by international missionaries the 1895 Club, were well supported - in Afrikaans - and included London Skolars' South African League international back Desi Kadima. They beat Luton Vipers, Ipswich Rhinos, the Parachute Regiment, and then host union club Old Albanians in a terrific finale to clinch Group 1.
Despite some sides losing all four group games, few games were one-sided with nine of the 20 group games decided by ten points or less. Even Haringay, a group of teenagers from the Tottenham area playing in their first open age event and coached by London Skolars' Jermaine Coleman and Alex Smits, excelled themselves, with Eritrean winger Futsum Aron becoming a crowd favourite thanks to his Willie Mason-style afro.
NG7s beat Old Albanians - whose forward John Warner played in NL2 for London Skolars last season - 24-14 to lift the Shield, while Ipswich won the Plate.
The West Indies, South Africa, NG7s and OAs will all be invited to play in the main MX9s event at New River Stadium on Sunday 18 July.
"It was a superb event, helped by glorious weather and some excellent rugby league," said Centurions director Gavin Willacy. "A lot of people gave up a lot of time to organize this day and we are delighted it went so well, despite two teams dropping out the day before. We have uncovered some impressive young rugby league players and shown the area's Leagies what St Albans has to offer."
HILLSBOROUGH AWAIT St Albans Centurions coach Peter Tonkin gets his men back in 13-a-side action on Saturday after their flirtation with Nines last Sunday. The LHF Healthplan National League 3 table-toppers play host to Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks on Saturday at Woollams, looking to beat the South Yorkshire side for the third straight time at home. The Centurions reserves make their first home appearance and go in search of their first TotalRl.com Conference victory, as they take on Rugby Raiders in the South Midlands Division.
Kick off at Woollams for the Conference game is 12.45pm, followed by 2.30pm for the main event. A BBQ will run all afternoon. Admission is �3 adults, �1 concessions. A reminder that Centurions Season Tickets are still available priced �25 for all NL3 and RLC home games from Jayne Hale at [email protected] or call the Centurions Box Office on 01438 351847.