The Independent Schools RFC, â€˜The Lambsâ€™, Under 18 season is now well and truly underway after Midlands, South East and North trials all took place at the weekend, and South West trials kicking off this weekend.
The Lambs select players following nominations from school Headâ€™s of Rugby across the country, players may only be nominated if they are not a member of an academy, the RFU Elite pathway, or are playing above divisional level in the RFU Aspirational Pathway.
The idea is that talented players who either do not have the time, or have not been given the opportunity to play in those environments can still have the chance to play at a top level and experience some of the challenges that brings.
They also place an emphasis on play fast flowing and free spirited rugby with something of an â€˜only when necessaryâ€™ attitude to kicking! It offers the chance for top players from schools across the country to mix it with the best from other school, culminating with an end of year tour for the National Squad.
Before all that though were the four regional trials, North, Midlands, South East and South West, over the course of last weekend and this, from which the regional squads are selected. The regions then play each other, with the North facing the Midlands and the South East taking on the South West on the 6th January 2013.
The following weekend sees the selection process further refined with a combined North XV (from the North and Midlands squads) taking on a combined South XV (from the South East and South West squads). The game doubles as a trial game for selection to the national squad with takes on a number of different sides before heading off on tour at the end of the season.
The first fixture of the season for any U18 Lambs XV though is this weekend with the North XV, selected following yesterdayâ€™s trial, taking on Hymers College 1st XV.
The match is to celebrate the centenary of Hymers College RFC and will be played on the school first team pitch.
The Lambs have selected a squad of 24 for the fixture, with RGS Newcastle supplying the most players to the squad with four of their 1st XV selected, including captain Nick Richardson.
St Maryâ€™s College, St Peterâ€™s, York and Giggleswick also supply the squad heavily with three players each, whilst the strongest school side in the region this season, Durham, supply two players.
Perhaps the best known school side in the region, Barnard Castle, are notable through their absence, though given the struggles of their 1st XV this season it is perhaps not overly surprising.
Full North Lambs Squad vs Hymers College:
Alastair Mankin – RGS, Newcastle
Simon Waller – Yarm School
Sam Morris – Woodhouse Grove School
Will Stone – Stockport Grammar
Nathan Stansfield – Bolton School
Chris Stothard – RGS, Newcastle
Nick Richardson – RGS, Newcastle
Nicholas Stephen – St Peterâ€™s, York
Patrick Nicol – Ampleforth College
Miles Lloyd – Sedbergh School
David Elliott – Durham School
Charles Greswold – St Peters, York
Sam Hardy – Durham School
Tom Owens – St. Maryâ€™s College
Robbie Davidson – Giggleswick School
Richard Broomby – Giggleswick School
Alex Albrecht – Sedbergh School
Angus Smith – St Peterâ€™s, York
Harvey Corner – Giggleswick School
Edward Horton – Kingâ€™s Macclesfield
Chris Bartolo – St. Maryâ€™s College
Ben Jones – RGS Newcastle
Mark Cox – Stockport Grammar
Ben Blackburn – St. Maryâ€™s College
Good luck to all involved, it is a fantastic achievement.
For more information about the ISRFC Lambs please visit them at: http://www.isrugby.net/index.php
Details of Hymers College and directions to the school can be found at: http://www.hymerscollege.co.uk/content/welcome