Last weekend was the Challenge du Vignoble 2024 edition at Epernay, France in the famous Champagne area. It is our first participation as a club and we brought 16 players for the occasion. While we play from time to time clubs from Belgium, it is an opportunity at this tournament to play mainly against French teams from the Northern part of France and Paris area.

155 teams across U8-U10-U12 from 35 different clubs registered to the event and not less than 2,000 people expected on the day. Well known clubs such as Racing 92 and Massy are regular participants and winners in the various categories. Our Minis are here to learn and enjoy a moment of high quality rugby. It is the end of the season and perfect timing to actually test our skills.

The team is registered in group B and we start the morning by playing: Kibubu from Belgium, Amiens, SCUF from Paris and GIF/Yvette a club from the Paris suburb. Games are short (one half of 9min) and we expect to play 8 games in total along the day. These 4 games are qualifying games to then play more competitive teams in the afternoon. While our Warriors must adapt to slight rules variation and a 10 aside format, the qualification games are a success. All 4 games won and 0 tries given away to the competition. By securing this 1st place in our group, we will play in the afternoon the winners of the 4 other groups. So certainly tougher and more competitive games to expect, but eh .. that’s why we are here for: play our best rugby.

Ranking games: Game on, we know the winners of each group. We are going to play: Boisfort from Belgium, Cergy Pontoise, Suresnes and Racing 92 Plessis. The group is well in place, united and it is visible that everyone wants to play and give its best. These are unique moments for the players, certainly a lifetime experience for many they would never forget. Our great performance of the morning continues, wining against Boistfort, Cergy and Suresnes. At this time of the day, nobody scored any try against us. This mixed group of 1st and 2nd year Minis are reaching new heights but now, the last game will be different. Shortly we will play Racing 92 Plessis.

We saw them playing: they play fast, they have many strong players in support. It is a very skilled team. Kick off, intensity is clearly a level up but our Minis are well in place, pressuring the opposition and fighting back any attempt to score. Well hard to resist and both concede a try. It is a really nice moment of youth rugby having those 20 players on the pitch giving everything they have. There is only one first place and our Minis want to believe it is possible.

2-2 anything can happen and while Racing 92 Plessis plays a better rugby, the situation can quickly turn into our advantage following a little mistake from their side. Try for Racing 92 Plessis, game over. That is the end: Racing 3 Wassenaar Warriors 2. Disappointed, maybe but it is a special moment every player experienced as we got them all on the pitch during this final game. Hand shake moment where we could hear “well done”, “great team Warriors”, “you are playing solid rugby” from our opponent. The Racing is a great team and here it comes with a great spirit. It was a tough game and both team knew it. Players and coaches exchange few words, time to cool down and take a joint team picture. What a final !! Well done warriors – you are gaining in game maturity and are reaching new heights. It is a fantastic 2nd place in this group B, certainly one we will not forget. Extremely proud of you.

A special thank you to Epernay Rugby Club for the great organisation and high quality tournament. Definitively a must do.

Laurent Minaud – Head coach Minis

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