Coaches and players from across the world of rugby league are coming together to pass on their top tips to young players in a virtual version of an annual tournament which usually brings together dozens of under 7s from across Yorkshire.
The Smudger U7s has been held annually since Nick ‘Smudger’ Smith died in 2017 by the charity set up in his name. It usually takes place at Siddal ARLFC in Halifax, the leading amateur side where Nick was captain for many of his 400 appearances.
The event aims to encourage young people to keep playing the sport he loved and develop their skills through a day of matches, coaching and fun.
This year, despite the Nick Smith Foundation being unable to invite everyone to be together physically, the team behind the Smudger U7s were determined to ensure some of that support was still available.
On Sunday (6 September) at 11am a video containing top tips will go live and be available for young players and their families to watch at any time at www.SmudgerU7s.com.
Introduced by Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield, who played alongside Nick in the Leeds Rhinos Academy in 1998. In his introduction, he says:
“Like Nick, I started playing when I was young so I understand how important it is to put some good habits in place. Rugby league was Nick’s passion and it’s mine too.”
Among the other rugby league legends passing on their advice are rugby league legend Keith Senior, Wigan Warriors and former Siddal player Morgan Smithies and the Challenge Cup winning coach John Kear.
They are joined by some of Nick’s friends and teammates, including Johnny Lawless, who won the Challenge Cup with Sheffield Eagles in 1998 and is a Trustee of The Nick Smith Foundation:
“I believe rugby league is the greatest team sport in the whole world. I hope every young player watching this weekend enjoys playing the game as much as I did, Nick did and all the players and coaches featured in this year’s Smudger U7s do.”
One of the Nick Smith Foundation’s aims is to promote the sport Nick loved, rugby league, to young people to encourage them to take up and develop their skills. The Smudger U7s is a key part of that work.
Stephen Naylor, Chair of the Nick Smith Foundation, said:
“This has been a year like no other but we were determined not to let a pandemic stop us from bringing together young people, albeit virtually, for the Smudger U7s.
“Nick loved playing and coaching rugby league and I hope the top tips from so many rugby league coaches and players really inspire the young people who watch to keep playing the game.
“Thank you to every single coach and player who has taken part and given up their time and expertise to support this event.”