Over the Easter Holidays England Lambs side toured the south of France and two of the North East's promising juniors were part of the squad.
Philip Brantingham from Newcastle School for Boys and James Blackett from Newcastle RGS, both members of Morpeth U11 side, were selected to play for the England U11 lambs side to tour the south of France over the Easter holidays. There were only five boys chosen from the North of England and Morpeth was the only club side in the country to have two representatives in the squad.
The tour party of 18 boys from across the country met up for the start of the tour in Toulouse- a hot bed for rugby in the world. The tour consisted of five matches against the best sides in the south. Prior to the first game they trained hard for three days at the very impressive Stade Toulousian rugby academy with guidance from the English and the French coaches . After training the boys were given a tour of the stadium and had the opportunity to watch the Toulouse first team train.
All five games were played in impressive stadiums in-front of passionate crowds. There were five games against Blagnac rfc academy, Avenir Castanean u12, Montauban Academy, Avenir Castanean u13 and the national champions Stade Toulousan Academy. The squad won four out of five of their games coming unstuck against Toulouse academy.
Both boys played in all five games getting lots of game time and both crossed the line to score for their country. James played at fly half, setting the back line, finding space well and kicking with vision. Philip played at prop making many powerful runs and setting up great field position for the backs to exploit.
Morpeth coach Phil Brantingham states, “both boys fitted in very well to the side making many new friends who bonded closely during the tour with the squad. The whole Lambs experience from the first trial games to the final England match in a 15,000 seater stadium has been an unforgettable experience for the boys.”
The tour wasn’t all hard work and no play, as there was down time to relax before the games where the boys were encouraged to swim, explore and taken on a trip to an outward bound facility.
Unfortunately during the second half of the last game Philip broke his thumb which ends his season but James has two big festivals of rugby coming up with the Morpeth U11 side at Harrogate for which he will need to lead the side without his sidekick.
Congratulations to both boys and the entire U11 Lambs side, we hope to see Morpeth at a game soon!