Young rugby league players come together for day of learning and fun at Smudger U7s

150 young rugby league players from across Yorkshire came together this weekend for a day of matches, learning and fun at the annual Smudger U7s at Halifax’s Siddal ARLFC organised by The Nick Smith Foundation.

The charity first held the event in 2018 after Siddal legend Nick ‘Smudger’ Smith died from motor neurone disease at the age of just 38. He was passionate about encouraging young people to take up and keep playing the sport he loved, rugby league.

Nick made over 400 appearances for Siddal, including captaining the side for many years, and the aim of the Smudger U7s is to bring together junior clubs who do not usually get the chance to play together so the youngsters can learn from each other and test their skills.

Watched by hundreds of people who had come down to Chevinedge on a sunny Sunday morning (5 September), young players from Siddal, Elland, Kippax, Queensbury, King Cross Park, Sharlston, Castleford Lock Lane, Stanningley and Dewsbury Celtic joined this year’s event. Every child taking part received a rugby ball and Smudger’s Top Tips sheet thanks to the support of DH Stainless.

The 2021 Smudger U7s returned to taking place physically at the home of Siddal ARLFC, after having to be held virtually last year. Despite that, some of the sports’ biggest stars, including Kevin Sinfield, came together in 2020 to remotely to pass on their top tips and this year Halifax Panthers players Scott Grix, Will Calcott, Zak McComb and Ben Kavanagh joined us to share their expertise.

Stephen Naylor, chair of The Nick Smith Foundation, said:

“Nick loved rugby league and I know he would be so proud of this event, bearing his name, that brings together so many young people from across Yorkshire to learn, play and have fun.

“Thank you to everyone at Siddal for their continued support in hosting and organising this event, the professional clubs and sponsors for backing it and all the amateur rugby league clubs for taking part and ensuring so many juniors can enjoy the sport that meant so much to Nick.”