A TOP rugby player has revealed the power of persistence in an online chat designed to inspire the next generation of players currently honing their skills at a North-East School.

Northampton Saints and England player Tom Wood staged an hour-long webinar with students at Barnard Castle School offering an invaluable insight into the professional game.

The back row forward was a teammate of the school’s director of rugby Lee Dickson who played scrum half for Saints and England.

Tom was the latest of a number of professional sportsmen to link up with the school over the internet during the current lockdown period.

A sophisticated home learning package was quickly developed in response to the pandemic as a result of which Barnard Castle School has quickly built a reputation for being in the vanguard of online learning.

A holistic approach adapted the whole curriculum to home learning, which was developed using detailed feedback from parents and students, allowing them to maintain their academic, sporting, cultural and spiritual learning using assignments, video and live-streaming contact with teachers.

Tom told students of his route into the sport, starting at school and club level, which included a number of disappointments, including failing to be selected at U18 England trials.

“One scrum half had a brilliant game scoring three tries and he still wasn’t picked,” he recalled. “He gave up the game that day saying that if he hadn’t been selected on the basis of that performance what was the point of continuing?

“I felt I’d played well and deserved a place too, but I didn’t get picked. But that brought out my anger, determination and aggression, it steeled me in my resolve, it brought the best out in me. I came back better and played for England seniors.

“Persistence got me through. Even now, I’m not the biggest, or the fastest, but I just want it more than the people around me. I win more lineout balls in matches even though I’m not the best at vertical jump tests in training.”

Tom, who has played 208 times for Saints and 50 times for England, advised students on training, playing and the importance of recovery, as well as other aspects of being a professional sportsman.

He answered a host of questions from students on his career, the direction of the game and the characters he’d played with and against.

Lee Dickson added: “Our students asked some excellent and astute questions and really benefited from Tom’s candid answers. Barney enjoyed excellent sporting seasons this year and I am sure they will remember the insights they have learnt today for the rest of their careers.”