RUGBY: Grammar’s future is in very safe hands

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Spalding Grammar School are toasting a hugely impressive year of rugby that has seen them deliver success across the board.

Three of the age groups have progressed well in national competitions – with teams travelling as far as York, Hull and the Lake District to play fixtures.

The Grammar have also boasted large representations at county level, while several students are now involved in the Elite Player Development Group organised and run by Leicester Tigers.

Spalding’s head of rugby Chris Crane said: “The future for Spalding Grammar School rugby looks bright. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of staff and parents who have given up their own time to referee or coach an age group.

“I would also like to thank the parents for their continued support – either by washing the muddy kit or by coming along to spectate.

“Finally I would like to thank all the students for their dedication and commitment to both training and fixtures and for making this season such a success.”

The under-12s have enjoyed a fantastic start to life playing for the school and have lost just one of their six matches. A group of really talented players, they have played some mature and intelligent rugby.

Along their way they have taken some big scalps – including victories over Oundle and Stamford School. Their only loss came at the hands of Oakham (26-14).

The side has been helped by the dominance of the back row, which includes Jack Patrick, Finlay Murdoch and William Wand who are ever present at all of the breakdowns. They have also been helped by the supreme tackling of Seamus O’Hagan in the centres and the sharp finishing of Reif Bissett-Clarke on the wing.

Spalding’s under-13s, meanwhile, have always proved to be a strong bunch of players – and this has been further enhanced by their achievement of reaching the last 16 in the School Sports Magazine National Cup.

They are still unbeaten after playing a staggering eight fixtures and are preparing for the next round of the School Sports Magazine Cup against Hymers College in Hull, which is due to be played in January.

In local matches they have once again proved to be a dominant force – beating the likes of Stamford, Oundle and Kings (Peterborough).

The back line has been outstanding once again, with Patrick Harrington, Charles Hughes and William Hughes regularly showing their raw speed and talent.

Their biggest improvement throughout the season has been with the forwards, who are becoming more effective around the contact area.

Oliver Simpson is a great scavenger on the floor, while Thomas Wilde is becoming a useful and powerful runner.

It’s been a mixed season for the under-14s, though.

Their main focus in training has been developing their tactical understanding of the game. As a result, they are started to understand about how to control the pace of the game – while also identifying and exploiting the weaknesses in the opposition side.

Consequently, some of the results have not gone their way – but the squad has continued to grow with new addition Alex Watson, Harry Darker and Charles Livermore providing a different dimension to the team.

Established performers Tim Moore and James Stuffins have impressed with their dominance and intellectual forward play, while Charlie Johnson and Ben Shields have made good improvement over the year.

The side has also been fortunate to have three players who have been selected to play for Lincolnshire in Tim Moore, Willis Ingleby and Tyler Bibby.

The under-15s have continued to build on their success from previous seasons.The boys are starting to play expansion rugby and always look dangerous with the ball.

Once again, they have made good progress in the NatWest National Competition and have reached round five of the tournament.

Along the way they have beaten local rivals Carre’s Grammar School, Kings Grantham and De Aston School before losing 32-7 against Pocklington.

The success of the team has drawn new players to the ever growing squad with Harry Hagon-Smith and Luke Russon adding more threat to the back line. In the forwards, Thomas Birdseye, William Jupp and Luke Jones continue to be strong, while James Hook, Corey Lewis, Oliver Johnson and JJ Faulkner provide the sparkle in the backs.

For the senior side, it’s been the most successful season for some time. They lifted the newly-formed Don Beecham Shield by beating a Spalding Rugby Club Colt side 51-0.

A 49-5 success over Prince William in the NatWest competition, before they edged out Kings School Peterborough 8-7 in the next round.

Their run eventually came to an end against heavyweights Stamford, but that failed to take the gloss off an incredible sequence of wins.

Tim Waltham has led the team well both on and off the field and instrumental in the development of the team.

Forwards James McGeown and Alfie Butler and centre Jason Esser have also been playing well and have helped with the resurrection of senior rugby.