February has been a busy month for the Academy with fixtures coming thick and fast for all the age groups from U16 to U23.
We had the honour of hosting the Combined Services U23 in our 2nd match up against the best young rugby players in the three Armed Services. Good weather and the great surface made a winters day feel like late spring. A huge physical challenge for our Squad with several U17 players making positive impacts on the game, Lewis Ellingham, Josh Steadman and Ben Retter coping well with the step up.
We also faced a return trip to Championship side Bedford Blues Academy at Goldington Road. After such a good performance at Vallis Way with our U19 Squad, we were looking forward to challenging our U20 players against the benchmark development programme outside of the RFU funded Clubs. Unfortunately a misunderstanding meant Bedford could not play the whole game at U20 and came from behind in the last 25 minutes to win another exciting match up.
Our loan players continue to impress at National League level. Academy skipper Sam Lunnon picked up the Man of the Match award for his part in Old Albanians crucial National 1 game against Blaydon. Tom Williams and Matt Killeen have become important members of the starting XV at Civil Service Rugby in National 3S, it’s proving a difficult season for the club but all involved are very happy with the progress of the Young Trailfinders. Matt Killeen also made his debut for a Henley Hawks A team in their win against the Army A at Dry Leas. A solid performance for the National 2 side saw Matt give the try scoring pass in a sweeping move to seal the win.
Our younger Senior Academy players are also doing well with the Men’s section, looking to establish themselves in the senior game. Scrum half Chico U’Chong has become a prolific points scorer in his recent games.
Great news also for the Senior Academy as No8 Marcus Lowe has been invited to London & South East Divisional trials after several impressive performances for Middlesex U20.
More representative honours also came for Chico U’Chong with Portugal U19 and Yun Shun Luk representing Hong Kong U20s.
The U18 have really worked hard this month, covering those players who have represented the Senior Academy and still turning out winning performances, we are a very ‘young’ U18 with many U17 group players making up the core squad.
The U16 have benefited from the wind down in school rugby commitments and are improving ahead of the business end of the season.
Those who follow us on Twitter (@ETFacademy for those that don’t!) will have no doubt noticed that former Academy U18 lock Cian Romaine has made 3 appearances for Ireland U20 in the 6 Nations Tournament, a fantastic achievement considering Cian didn’t even figure in County rugby at U16, he should provide huge inspiration for anyone who has an ambition they are prepared to pull up trees to realise.
Also, news just reaching us is that 2 of Cian’s former Academy U18 team mates Matt Lewis and Will Key have been awarded Rugby League Blues at Oxford University and will line up in the Rugby League Varsity match later this week.