Fifteen Rugby caught up with Bedford Schoolâ€™s captain, Charlie Esam, ahead of their first game of the season against Oundle.
A remarkably mature and thoughtful young man, you can see why Charlie has been made captain of this promising Bedford side, and his quiet determination shone though ahead of the start of the season.
Hereâ€™s what he had to say:
Fifteen Rugby: How do you think Bedford season was last year?
Charlie Esam: We had a successful season last year, with some outstanding performances in places. It was perhaps injuries, and other factors that meant we didn’t quite have the consistency of results we were aiming for. But winning over half of our games on such a tough circuit is something to be celebrated, not to mention coming away from the St. Joseph’s Festival with the Plate.Â
XV: Who were your stand out players last year, and who do you expect to star this year?
C.E: Luke Carter was the rock of our pack in the second row; in his third and final year of 1st team rugby Luke marshalled the line-out as well as being a great leader on and off the field. Our centre/wing Ant Hensman stood-in as captain for the second half of the season after a huge blow in losing Nick Coward, Hensman minimised this loss by regularly being the stand-out player in ourÂ back line. Josiah Herbert had a promising first season of Bedford School rugby at Hooker, and I expect him to feature heavily this season. Fly-half/centre Clark Davidson is also one to watch, and is extremely dangerous when given some space.Â
XV: Who are your major rivals?
C.E: In a season with just 11 block fixtures it is important not to place too much emphasis on one fixture, I’m hoping we’ll be firing on all cylinders for every opponent. However the first game of the season against Oundle is always hardly fought.
XV: How important do you feel schools rugby is both to the players and to the school community?
C.E: You only had to see the Wellington fixture last year to see what rugby means to Bedford School. Hundreds of pupils came out and their chants of support helped us defend wave after wave of Wellington attack and hold on to our lead in the final minutes. School rugby has a different feel to club and academy rugby, you’re playing with your mates who you see at school and train with day in and day out, which is pretty special. Beyond Rugby, playing at 1st team level in any major sport is aÂ privilegeÂ and brings responsibility with it.Â
XV: How well supported are Bedford? Do the other teams/the girls/lots of parents come to watch?
C.E: Our home games are very well supported. Having friends, family and pupils all watching makes for a great atmosphere, and hopefully we’ll give them something to shout about this year.
XV: Who are your most prestigious rugby alumni?
C.E: Jamie Elliot (Northampton Saints wing) is our most recent rugby success story. He was our fly-half in the unbeaten 1st XV season of 2009, and had a great breakthrough season in 2011/12, playing in the Premiership and Heineken Cup. Winding back the clock Bedford School has produced seasoned internationals such as: David Callam (Scotland), Martin Bayfield, Andy Gomarsall (both England), and current Harlequins player Will Skinner.
XV: Your first game is against Oundle, how are you feeling ahead of it?
C.E: As I mentioned the first game against Oundle is always a big one and I can’t wait to get out there.
XV: As you’ve gone through the school how have results been against them, particularly last year?
C.E: We’ve fared pretty well in previous years against Oundle, but 1st team level brings a completely different challenge. And last year we played them twice, after a weak performance they turned us over at home in our first game. However the spoils were shared after we won the return fixture at Oundle. Honours even ahead of this year!