This week Sheffield’s Sam Jones of Mount St Mary’s College joined 30 of the country’s most promising schoolboy rugby players and experienced a day in the life of an England rugby player after being selected to attend the NatWest Schools Cup Academy Day.
In reward for his performances during this year’s NatWest Schools Cup, Sam Jones was joined by England players Chris Robshaw, Dave Attwood, Matt Kvesic and former England winger Mark Cueto MBE at England Rugby’s Pennyhill Park training base in Surrey. The young player was put through his paces by leading strength and conditioning coaches.
The NatWest Schools Cup Academy Day saw 30 U15 and U18 schoolboys participating in a training session on the same pitch as the England squad prepare on, before reviewing their performances in a video session lead by England’s analysists. Throughout the day the Academy Day players took part in photo and filming shoots alongside the England players to truly experience the demands on elite rugby players, both on and off the pitch.
Speaking at the NatWest Academy Day, Mark Cueto commented, “The level of quality at the NatWest Schools Cup Academy Day was extremely high. English rugby is in a good place following the Grand Slam win and the calibre of players on show suggests we have a promising future to look forward to as well. Sam performed consistently throughout this NatWest Schools Cup and his contribution to Mount St Mary’s College season has been rightfully rewarded.”
Sam Jones was a key player in the Mount St Mary’s College side this year, displaying some exceptional performances before his side were knocked out of the U18 NatWest Schools Cup by Woodhouse Grove School; 32-5.
The 2016 NatWest Schools Cup saw a total of 883 teams play in the knockout competition, all competing for the chance to play at Twickenham Stadium on Finals Day, making it the biggest schools competition in England to date. After two gripping finals it was the Sedbergh School and Bromsgrove School who claimed the U15 and U18 NatWest Schools Cup trophies, respectively after defeating Wellington College and QEGS Wakefield.
From 2017 the NatWest Schools Cup will take on a different format, with both the U15 and U18 competitions being divided into several tiers to enhance competition and encourage more schools to enter.
Applications for the NatWest Schools Cup 2016/17 close tomorrow, May 27. Schools can enter at englandrugby.com/club-competitions/natwest-schools-cup/how-to-enter.