ESF Lions set off
The very best Year 11 players from the Emmanuel Schools Foundation have joined forces for a five-day tournament against young talent in Scotland.
The players from The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, Trinity Academy, Thorne, Bede Academy, Blyth, and Emmanuel College, Gateshead underwent a rigorous selection procedure to win a coveted place.
The final 25-strong squad of players were presented with their ESF Lions kit after meeting at Emmanuel College before embarking on the 11th annual tour.
Opponents will include the High School of Glasgow, North Berwick High School and Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, fresh from their home nation’s nail-biting Rugby World Cup quarter final match against Australia.
Head of school at Emmanuel College Matt Waterfield told the squad the tour would be life-changing. He said:
“You have come together from four very different places and four different schools that share the same values of commitment to be the very best.
“Living together, training together and playing together on the rugby field will be something very special and something you will not forget.”
For Bede Academy captain Tom Marshall the tour is the latest in a rugby career that began when he was just four.
“My uncle was a coach so I started young,” said the 15-year-old, who plays at No 8.
“I play for the Newcastle Falcons Academy and am part of the England Player Pathway. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I may get the chance to play for England U16s and it is my dream to play for England one day.”
Emmanuel College No 10 Elliott Trott also comes with a sporting pedigree that sees him play for Durham County.
“My aim is to get into Hartpury Rugby College in Gloucester and then Gloucester Academy. I would also love to play for my country one day,” he added.
The tour for Trinity Academy fly half Jordan Bull will provide the opportunity to brush up on union skills rather than his usual league.
“I enjoy both but for me league is a faster game,” said the 15-year-old, a member of Leeds Eagles Academy.
“Like the other boys it is my hope to play for England in the future and the Lions tour will be an amazing experience.”
King’s Academy scrum half Morgan Turnbull also plays for Acklam RUFC in Middlesbrough.
Morgan, 15, who wants to be a chemical engineer, said:
“I am really fortunate because this is the second time I have been on tour and I can’t wait.”