Ipswich under-17s reach National Cup knockout after Cambridge win

Head coach Clive Bell paid tribute to his young charges after Ipswich Rugby Club’s under-17s team lifted the Eastern County Cup and progressed to the RFU National Cup Knockout.

Bell’s side saw off their Cambridge counterparts, 20-17 at Humber Doucy Lane, and will now travel to Essex for a game against Westcliff in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Ipswich were down to 13 men at one stage with Harry Cullen and Daniel Phelps in the sin-bin, but dug in and showed the character required to get them over the line, much to the delight of young coach Bell, who had to stop playing the game at just 17 due to curvature of the spine.

“It was very tense stuff and I don’t think we played to our maximum but we did what was needed to reach the National stages and we know what we have to do to improve against Westcliff,” said Bell, a former Ipswich Rugby Club player, 23.

“We have overcome the prospect of playing in a final and how that can affect your performance and we are back at the quarter final stage now and we are looking forward to the game.”

Monty Douglas and Henry Alexander were amongst the try scorers as Ipswich completed a clean sweep, having defeated several other sides just to get to this stage.

“We have overcome some good teams, the likes of Norwich, Boardlands, Bury, North Walsham and Wymondham and I think in terms of the way the players have trained and applied themselves, they deserve to be in the national stages.”

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Former player Bell is enjoying his second season in charge of the team, having been involved in the management set up since the boys were in the under-13s category.

Unbeaten under his leadership, Bell, who also coaches at Ipswich School, said he was delighted to be still involved in the game, in some capacity.

“I had to stop playing when I was 17 so with my love for the game, it is fantastic to be involved on the coaching side both with the club and at the school.

“For the players, it has been great to see how they have developed and matured as players over the years.”

n Meanwhile, Eastern Counties Under-20s lost 22-5 to Hertfordshire in the L&SE Regional semi-finals against Hertfordshire, played at Old Merchant Taylor’s RFC.

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