A new 1st XV rugby squad at Wisbech Grammar School has been honing its skills with two pre-season tours.
In a three-day visit to Gloucester the boys, led by captain George Porter, had access to Gloucester Rugby Academy facilities, based at Hartpury College, for two days and they received specialist coaching from the Gloucester Academy under 18s’ coach.
On the third day the team competed at the Colston’s pre-season 15-a-side competition against a number of the country’s leading rugby schools, including premiership rugby academy feeder schools such as Bicton College.
Head of rugby Alex Laybourne said: “The team made great strides throughout the day as an almost completely new 1st XV side came together. George Porter led the team well throughout the tour and the new fifth form players, Ryan Hutler, James Sapsford, James Thompson and Oliver Short, made good impressions on their first outing.
“This young 1st XV has had a tough pre-season programme put together in order to prepare it for the new season. The boys have done exceptionally well and I look forward to seeing them progress throughout the year and doing Wisbech Grammar School proud.”
In a second outing 20 members of the squad, together with 19 of the U15A squad, travelled to Southampton for an overnight tour.
The boys had the added benefit of a session with former Scottish international and Northampton Saints centre Joe Ansbro before they departed. The top-flight rugby star, who was educated at Stonyhurst College and Cambridge University, was the first player of Afro-Caribbean origin to represent Scotland at test level.
In Hampshire the 1st XV was pitted against King Edward VI School, Southampton, a powerful team which was good over the ball at the breakdown. For the first 30 minutes, the game was scoreless, thanks largely to some excellent scramble defence from Joseph Thompsett and James Thompson.
When the game opened up the opposition scored first, before Patrick Webb hit back with a similar score off the back of a scrum after some hard work by Freddie Foreman. King Edward then scored again before a late try by Freddy Foreman gave a two-try-apiece finish in the team’s final pre-season fixture.
The U15s faced St John’s College, Portsmouth, and after a slow start began to find its rhythm. Led by George Bone, team members, including Emerson Collingwood-Smith and Henry Oldershaw-Ellis, produced some excellent performances, although the boys finally went down to a strong St John’s team.