Are we a rugby school? Oh yes!29 November 2016
Tom Excell, PE teacher, Head of House and rugby coach reflects on Penryn’s passion for rugby
Just how keen are they?
We can play full- sided fixtures in every year group. Turn out for practice is strong – we regularly see 22-24 boys in every year group attending after school practice. Slightly less for Year 7, but they’ve only been playing 8 or 9 weeks. Our message to the boys is: if you train, you’ll play and we deliver those opportunities through our wide range of fixtures on offer.
What do you think inspires performance?
Our boys are surrounded by rugby role models. Year 11 students Dom Roberts and Alfie Johns are volunteer assistant coaches with Year 7 pupils. Boys see the route through to county squads and local clubs. Former students Bertie Duncan and AJ Stansfield entered Truro College Rugby Academy. We have successful county performers. In Year 9 Josh Armitage and Jayden Crockford have joined Exeter Chiefs training academy. Matt McDonald, Kofi Campion and Jack King play for Cornwall. In Year 10 Guy Brooks, Sam Hamersley and Charlie Levick are in the Cornwall squad with Guy and Charlie getting selected for Exeter Chiefs U15 academy squad, a phenomenal achievement. Recently Alex Cheeseman, professional player for the Pirates, has attended games and worked with boys in training.
Our own staff have strong rugby pedigrees. I came to Penryn to teach looking for commitment and support for school rugby and I certainly found it. I grew up in Bristol playing for Bristol Academy, county sides from U12/U20 each year and an England schools trial at U18. Played senior rugby for lots of teams ranging from Dings Crusaders in Bristol at 6th form, Plymouth Albion 2nds when at uni, Redruth, Truro, and Pirates amateurs most recently. My colleague, Adrian Bick, is extremely well-known and respected on the Cornish rugby scene – a former Pirates player and National League Mounts Bay head coach. Adrian brings massive experience and gravitas to our coaching provision.
How is this season going?
The teams have played some tough, high quality teams this term, and those experiences build resilience and teamwork. The 8s are the 2nd best team in Cornwall for rugby in both full and 7 a side games and 10s are out of the county cup and national cup after tough fixtures. Year 9 team are through to the quarter finals of the County cup and face Truro school next who are county champions. Year 7 came 5th out of 16 schools in a county U12 tournament which is amazing really, as six of them had never played rugby before joining us in September. So overall, I’m happy with the performance, but all I look for is improvement in their performance and to enjoy representing the college.
Let’s hear it for the girls!
We have lots of talented girl rugby players who are playing county and club rugby to gain the wider playing experience we can’t offer them at inter-school level. Other schools just can’t provide teams for fixtures. This term we have seven county squad players: Chelsea Mitchell, Erin Hann, Kiri Bush, Zoe Pixton, Jodie Bawden, Sky Burgos and Holly Derrante. With fellow team mates Candice Galloway, Cassie Dawe, Maddy Kelly, Millie Hillier and Yassie Edgson, these girls also play for Penryn Rugby Club and are ably captained by Erin Hann.