Date published: 23 May 2013
Rochdale International Mixed Tag Rugby League Festival 2013
The 5th Annual Rochdale International Mixed Tag Rugby League Festival took place at the impressive new venue of Rochdale Rugby Union Club, and despite the appalling weather it proved to be a huge success.
With teams again travelling from as far away as Loch Lomond in Scotland the Festival lived up to its reputation of providing the best Rugby has to offer both on and off the pitch.
The festival is renowned for its warmth and openness and that it really does appeal to everyone from Super League professionals to people literally playing their first game of rugby.
It was perhaps then fitting the the Manchester Canalsiders chose the Rochdale Tag Festival to play their first games of rugby league.
The Canalsiders are the world's first (and currently only) LGBT rugby league team.
For only the second time the overall winners trophy left Rochdale as the Balsawoods claimed the crown.
Leading up to the cup final was a series of play-off finals with various trophies up for grabs.
The winners of the Vase final were the Rochdale Swarm B, who defeated the Manchester Canalsiders 4-3 in a great match.
The victors of the Plate Final where the Flying Horse Mad Taggers who took the spoils from Loch Lomond. This is the second time these teams have met in a final, and the "Flyers" have been victorious on both occasions.
The Shield winners this year where the Whitworth Spartans, who ran out winners in a close contest against Wakefield CRL.
Trophy Winners where last year's overall winners the Rochdale Cobras, who defeated a young Queensbury side in another cracking final.
So with a clean sweep of Rochdale winners in the preliminary finals the pressure was on the Rochdale Swarm A in their final against the Balsawoods from Batley.
Both teams entered the final undefeated and the Swarm, jubilant to have reached the final of their own competition, the first time this had happend and by far their best performance in any Tag Rugby Competition.
The final though proved a game too far for the Swarm. After a bad start they never recovered and the Balsawoods ran out deserved winners in a final played to a very high standard and in a superb spirit.
With the boy/girl right side duo No.5 and 6 being outstanding for the Yorkshire side.
There was one other trophy to be presented on the night which was the annual Spirit of the Festival Award which goes to the team or individual who most embodies what the festival is about.
With the festival being about inclusiveness and accepting everyone, it was fitting the the Manchester Canalsiders were given this year's award.
Emily Wynn, from the organising committee, said: "After a year or so when we have had issues finding a suitable venue, Rochdale Rugby Union Club provided the perfect setting and it is somewhere where we can build the festival to be an even bigger and better event. It was great to see so many people involved again."
The festival was brought to a close with the now legendary post event party, with a live band as the festival goers party into the small hours.
Plans are already being formulated for the 2014 event and information on how to get involved will be released shortly.