SCHOOL children at primary schools right across the Malvern Hills district will be on their marks next week for the start of a new inter-schools tag-rugby mini league competition.

The competition that has been organised by the Sports & Recreation Department of the Malvern Hills District Council and rugby coaches from Malvern RFC, is the third stage of a year long scheme that has seen the introduction of tag-rugby into 23 of the districts primary schools.

The scheme began in October 2000, when the rugby coaches from Malvern RFC visited the 23 schools to teach children (and their teachers) how to play tag-rugby.

Tag-rugby is an approved non-contact version of rugby union specifically designed for young people. It can be played in gymnasiums, on playgrounds or on sport fields and has simple rules that children can readily understand. Being a non -contact form of the sport, tag-rugby relies upon the tackle to be made by ripping a Velcro-backed plastic tag from a belt worn by all of the players. The game is a fast and frantic, but the kids love its simplicity and fun.

For convenience, the organisers have divided the Malvern Hills district into three zones. Nine schools from the north of the district will compete in the Tenbury zone with all the games played at the Sport Martley Leisure Centre which is part of The Chantry High School.

In the Malvern zone, pupils from Madres-field, Malvern Link, St Joseph's, Great Malvern, Northleigh, Poolbrook, Somers Park and St James (West Malvern) primary schools will lock horns at Spring Lane, the home of Malvern RFC.

While in the south of the district, Pendock, Castlemorton, Welland, Upton, Eldersfield and St Gabrials & St Mary's (Hanley Swan) primary schools will make up the Upton zone and they will play all their matches on The Glebe at Hanley Castle High School.

The results of the mini-leagues will be published in the Malvern Gazette & Ledbury Reporter and also posted on Malvern Hills District Tag Rugby Website which can be found on the following address: http://www.geocities.com/tagrugby/home.html

The tag-rugby scheme ends on June 12 with a grand finale at Malvern Rugby Club, when all 23 schools, their tag-rugby teams, teachers and supporters taking part in a tag-rugby festival to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the British Heart Foundation and enjoy a day of exercise through the sport of tag-rugby.

The organisers of the festival are keen to talk to any potential sponsors who will be able to help finance the event that will be supported by over 300 children and many distinguished guests.

For more details, contact The Sports & Recreation Officer at Malvern Hills DC on (01684) 892700.