DOZENS of rugby players of all ages, genders and abilities will converge on Raven Park on Saturday for a festival of rugby in memory of much-loved former Colchester first team player Tom Miller.

At least 24 teams from across Essex and the Eastern Counties will be taking part in the second annual Tom Miller 10s Tournament.

Colchester Rugby Club are hoping to attract thousands of spectators to enjoy the sport, as well as food, drink and all the fun of the fair.

Tom started playing rugby while a pupil at Little Garth School near Nayland, and later went on to play for Colchester’s first team in their National 3 league campaign.

A highly talented player, Tom died, aged just 24, in a tragic accident while at university in December 2020, days after signing his first professional contract with Nottingham Rugby Club.

Tom was an ambassador for Oddballs, so it’s appropriate that the organisation, which raises awareness of testicular cancer, will be the charity of the day, while the tournament winners will be awarded the Tom Miller Cup.

Three competitions will run simultaneously from 11am.

The Men’s Open event features last year’s winners, a Pickett Select X plus Colchester’s 7s team, The Wise Monkeys.

There will also be three squads from Colchester-based army units, plus other local clubs.

The men’s social competition will feature teams from across the region, one of which – Tommy’s Trumpeters – will be drawn from old school friends of Tom.

The women’s competition includes six teams from across the Eastern Counties, including Colchester’s own Iceni squad.

Each match will feature ten players a-side and last seven minutes each way.

After a series of pool matches played on Raven Park’s six pitches, each section will have their own final, with the climax expected to kick-off at around 5.30pm.

Last year’s inaugural 10s festival was held just as the country was coming out of lockdown, so various Covid-related restrictions were still in place.

It didn’t stop a couple of thousand people turning up to join in the fun, and Colchester RFC President Maggie Whiteman is hoping for even more this year.

She said: “It will be a great chance for everyone to get together, enjoy some fun sport and have something to eat and drink and it’s all in a terrific cause.”