NATIONAL League star Craig Farrell, a former York City Knights favourite, has joined rugby league development officers in hailing the expanded Marston Moor Cup tournament a great success.

The nine-a-side tournament, organised by the Knights' development department, has been a part of the York International 9s since the festival's inception in 2002 but until this year had involved primary school (Year 6) teams only.

This year, competitions were also brought in for secondary school teams, from Year 7 to Year 10, and schools from across North Yorkshire, not just around York, were invited to take part.

One of them was Graham School, Scarborough, where Farrell teaches, and they marked their entry by reaching the Year 8 final, where they lost to another outreach school, Knaresborough's King James, 16-4.

Farrell, who now plays for Batley Bulldogs, reckoned the tournament would boost rugby league across the region. "It's an excellent competition," he said. "All the kids loved it and we're keen to do it again.

"Increasing the size of the competition and getting more schools involved from the surrounding areas is great for its profile.

"It's also an excellent way of getting more players involved in the North Yorkshire Service Area, which can only be good for the future of the game and in particular for York City Knights."

Qualifying events were held in the run-up to the York 9s, with the finals at each age level taking place on the day itself.

Ian Wilson, a rugby league development officer for North Yorkshire, said: "The extended competition worked really well. There was an excellent standard and the games in all of the finals were pretty close.

"It was also good to see some schools making the finals from outside of York and hopefully that will continue next year with other schools getting involved from those types of areas."

Barlby School, near Selby, took another title away from York by winning the Year 9 final, 24-20 in a thriller against Millthorpe School. Millthorpe also reached the Year 10 final but again were pipped 24-20 in an exciting match by York rivals Joseph Rowntree.

The Year 7 final saw two more York schools fight it out, with Canon Lee beating Burnholme 8-4, while the primary school showdown saw Clifton Without edge Woodthorpe by the same scoreline.


York 9s Festival

Marston Moor Cup

Year 6 final: Clifton Without 8, Woodthorpe 4.

Year 7 final: Canon Lee 8, Burnholme 4.

Year 8 final: King James 16, Graham 4.

Year 9 final: Barlby 24, Millthorpe 20.

Year 10 final: Joseph Rowntree 24, Millthorpe 20.