Calderdale kids kicked off World Cup fixture in style

Over 10,000 rugby league fans have packed into The Shay to watch the World Cup tie between Italy and Tonga.

Sunday, 10th November 2013, 4:07 pm
Calderdale school children do the Tonga war dance the sipi tau at The Shay before the Rugby World Cup Tonga v Italy match

Before the match, which started at 4pm, fans were treated to various forms of entertainment which and gave the international game a real local community feel.

It kicked off with a touch rugby game at 2.30pm, in which local army veterans took on rugby league legends. At 3pm, over 550 primary school children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they performed the Tongan Haka (Sipi Tau) on the pitch before the game. They had been busy practising at school with former Halifax RLFC star Frank Watene.

Children from Salterhebble J & I School hit the right note in a spectacular choir performance of the Italian and Tongan national anthems.

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The match ball was proudly brought onto the pitch by a local soldier injured in combat, Sergeant Kevin ‘Charlie’ Drake from the Royal Engineers.

Two serving soldiers gave the trophy pride of place on its plinth on the pitch. Warrant Officer Class 1 Anthony Pud Cowburn was Captain of the British Army Rugby League team for eight years. He now coaches the Army Ladies and is a current player and coach for the Army Vets side. Corporal Colin Marangon, born in Italy, is captain of the army rugby league first team (champions of the inter-services title 2013). He has been playing rugby league for seven years and was involved in the Great Britain combined services squad that competed in the Armed Forces World Cup.

Students from Trinity Academy and Park Lane Learning Trust carried out the tournament flag and soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment brought on the nation flags. Youngsters from junior rugby clubs across Calderdale accompanied the players onto the pitch.

At half-time, local dancers of various ages will wow the crowds with an exclusive, high-energy routine, and cheerleaders will strut their stuff.