Joy as St Joseph’s College quintet receive England calls

ST JOSEPH’S College is proving to be a hotbed for young rugby talent right now after five more students were picked to represent England in their respective age groups.

George Wacokecoke has already been handed a call-up to the under-17s team but his peers are emulating that success, much to the delight of St Jo’s coach, Robyn Jones.

Flankers Gabriel Carroll (17, Sudbury) and Shaquille Meyers (18, Diss) have been selected for the England Under-18 Clubs and Schools squad to face their Irish counterparts in April.

The duo have been joined by Bury St Edmunds wing, Chris Lord, 18, and Colchester fly-half, Joe Tarrant, 17, while Austin Beckett, 16, a fellow pupil at the Belstead Road campus, has been selected for the provisional under-16s squad that will that will play Italy under-17s and Wales Under-16s in April.

“It’s absolutely huge for us” said Jones, the college’s under-18s rugby coach.

“As far as we are aware, St Jo’s have the biggest representation of schoolboys in the UK with six internationals, including George Wacokecoke who has already been selected to play for the England Under-17s squad.

“If you look across the college team, the four boys selected for the under-18s, Gabriel, Shaquille, Chris and Joe team are probably the ones that work the hardest.

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“They are the ones that you will find in the gym, totally off their own back at 7am every morning and, on a work to reward ratio, they have got everything they deserve.

“Three of them have unfortunately been released from the development squad at Northampton Saints, while Joe Tarrant is at Bedford Rugby Club, but hopefully they can get something fixed up on the back of their England calls.”

The players were chosen on the back of their performances for London & South East recently who, playing in the Under-18 divisional festival in Coventry, defeated the Midlands 34-28 and then overcame South West, 36-12.

Carroll and Lord scored tries in both games, while Meyers scored in the second game. Tarrant kicked four conversions over the two encounters.

Mike Glogg MBE, chairman of the London & South East 18 Group, explained: “Traditionally the approach was to grade players through their county matches.

“This year, inspired by a model I have been involved with and that is being worked on by the RFU’s player development department, we gathered a group of eight qualified coaches plus myself, Chris Roberts and Oliver Torri, to attend the matches and training, and make detailed player assessments.”

Beckett, meanwhile, who plays for Sudbury, will train at Abingdon School in Oxfordshire on March 10 and 11 with the England squad and feature in a match against Leicester Tigers Under 17s on the second day.

A second warm-up match will be played against London Wasps Under 17s at St Edward’s School in Oxford on March 18 during a two-day training camp there.

England play Italy Under 17s in Parma on April 7 and Wales Under 16s at Wellington College, Crowthorne in Berkshire on April 11 (2pm).

“Austin is a strong, hard-working boy and is an old-fashioned winger who is very quick,” said Jones.

“He carries the ball very well and has been exceptional for us this season.”

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