• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Rugby boys show resilience and charitable side, on and off the pitch

SCHOOLBOY rugby players are celebrating their strength in depth after a string of successes both sides of the whistle.

The 12-man first-team at Barnard Castle School took the North of England Rugby Sevens title in emphatic style after previously being runners-up on three occasions.

The day before, many of the squad, who are qualified as Young Match Officials, refereed 60 matches as the school hosted Barnard Castle School U15 Challenge Sevens tournament.

With barely time to catch their breath, they also all took part in four-mile qualifier for the school’s annual historic Barnard Run, which every year raises thousands of pounds for charity.

The following weekend, their third final saw them take the Mount St Mary’s Sevens Tournament in Sheffield.

Barnard Castle School’s Second Master Martin Pepper said the students’ feat was a prime example of their “resilience, character and willingness to help others”.

The school has an enviable reputation for producing top-flight athletes stretching back decades with many representing their country. Last year it appointed former England and Northampton scrum half Lee Dickson as Director of Rugby.

Captained by Finn Usher, 18, the squad took by storm the North of England Rugby Sevens, staged in Birkenhead, on the Wirral, beating Wirral Grammar School 33-7, Sedbergh School 24-5 and Kirkham Grammar School 26-5 in the knockout stages of the competition.

Finn said: “I was delighted with how the squad played with every one of the 12 contributing significantly to our overall performance. We have been working hard on our fitness with Mr Dickson and it really came through. Sevens tournaments are taxing but every player put in a great shift.”

Mr Pepper said: “They played with such grit, precision and accuracy that the opposition struggled to get the ball. They played with intensity and control which led to convincing wins.”

He said this season had been one of the most successful for many years with 13 players in the U18 Durham County Squad, three in the U18 Falcons Academy team, helping them reach the league final, another in the U18 North of England team and one selected for the U17 England Development squad.

“I am also really proud of the way they jumped at the chance to train in their own time as referees,” he said. “They did a brilliant job refereeing the U15s Challenge Sevens tournament, gaining an amazing insight into the other side of the whistle, which will really help them as players.”

Finn added: “After all the boys achieved that week they still took part in the four-mile Barney Bash, which just shows the spirit of our students and how much energy they put into their school life.”

By French