A junior rugby tour that looked doomed was saved by a timely donation from a North East charity group.

Young players from Darlington Rugby Football Club, who train at Blackwell Meadows, feared that a planned tour to Lancaster and around the Lake District would have to be cancelled when their accommodation bookings fell through.

The surprise cancellation left team officials scrambling to find an additional £1,000 to ensure that the trip for the 70 players – all from the club’s Under 14s boys, Under 14s girls, and Under 16s girls teams – could go ahead. Luckily, Darlington Round Table stepped in to make up the shortfall.

Mark Wheeler, the club’s Under 14s coach, said: “This donation means everything to us. We were let down at the last moment, but the support of the Round Table made this tour happen, and it made 70 kids very happy.”

The teams began their tour in Lancaster playing clubs from Burnley, before going on to play against Kirkby Lonsdale, in the Lake District.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Junior players and coaches, with Round Table members, before heading off on-tourJunior players and coaches, with Round Table members, before heading off on-tour (Image: Chris Barron)

Paul Swift, chairman of Darlington Round Table, said: “We are delighted that our help meant this fantastic tour could go ahead.

“Every year, Darlington Round Table raises thousands of pounds with our Santa’s Sleigh collections for the express purpose of supporting brilliant local community initiatives like this.

“When you donate at the Round Table Santa’s Sleigh, this is the sort of thing you’re making possible, so I would like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who gave money, and to everyone to helped out.

“And on behalf of Darlington Round Table, we’d like to congratulate the kids on representing our town so well!”

Kayleigh Anderson, the club’s safeguarding officer, added: “These tours are such great opportunities for all the children to get to know each other better and to spend some time together, and really build that team connection.

“The boys and the girls play so well together, and it really helps to foster that safe, supportive environment where they can be themselves and really enjoy the sport. It’s helping build those great strong relationships, and that’s what rugby’s all about.”