inspiresport Champion Schools, Year 10 Girls Final
Brooksbank School (Halifax) 36, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf (Cardiff) 10
By Andy Wilson. Pic: SW Pix
The Brooksbank School overcame a brave challenge from Cardiff’s Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf to claim the inspiresport RFL Champion Schools title for Year 10 Girls in the superb surroundings of St James’ Park in the first match of Super League’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
Lil Seal, a half-back who is already in the Leeds Rhinos Under-16s set-up, scored 28 of Brooksbank’s points with four tries and six goals from as many attempts in a sparkling individual performance.
She combined brilliantly with full-back Madison Clegg, a team-mate at both Leeds and the Greetland All-Rounders community club, who scored the other two tries and provided a superb inside pass for Seal’s second.
“It’s been a fantastic experience,” said Seal after the Brooksbank team had received their medals in front of their parents at the Leazes end of St James’ Park.
“Even as a Man United fan I reckon this is one of the best stadiums in the country, and it’s brilliant that we get the chance to play here. It’s fantastic for girls’ Rugby League – especially with the Women’s Challenge Cup Final at Wembley later this year.”
Seal had completed a hat-trick by half-time, one of them a 60-metre individual effort to dive between the posts at the Gallowgate end.
But Brooksbank had also shown resilience in defence to withstand several bouts of pressure from their Welsh opponents, who finally claimed the try their efforts deserved when Erin Lee-Williams dived over on the right.
They added a second try early in the second half through Evie Collingwood, with Megan Jones adding an excellent conversion to reduce the deficit to 24-10.
But Seal responded by laying on Clegg’s second try with a beautiful long pass before completing the scoring with another long-striding effort from inside her own half.
Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf made history as the first Welsh team to qualify for a Girls Champion Schools Final, and for two of their squad – Megan Jones and Olivia Rawnsley – the marathon journey to Newcastle was made even more complicated by the fact they were singing at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Llandovery, meaning they arrived in the team hotel at 3am on Saturday morning.
Before the match, the all-girl officiating team had been presented with special commemorative whistles by the RFL’s Chief Executive Tony Sutton as part of the sport’s partnership with Acme.
Megan Mills from Hull refereed the match with Esmai Wright and Rhiannon Horsman of Leeds her touch judges. Wigan’s Olivia Leech and Niamh Bragg were in goal judges, with Rebecca Floyd from St Helens the reserve official.