THREE trial matches will take place over the weekend as England Universities begin preparations for next year’s Four Nations competition.
The South East take on the South West on Saturday (2 December) with Yorkshire entertaining the Midlands on the same afternoon. And, on Sunday, the North East host the North West.
Chris Chatten reports on the first-mentioned of those games.
South West Universities take on the South East at Maidenhead RUFC (4.00pm) in the annual challenge fixture which is the start of the England Pathway.
Students who impress in the fixture will be invited to train with a ‘South’ squad early in the New Year in the annual South v North origin fixture, which is used to select the England squad for the Four Nations in the summer also involving Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Bath Rugby League’s Josh Frost is in the 20-man squad and likely to feature at stand-off. Josh has effectively crossed codes for the game as he plays Rugby Union at University of Gloucestershire.
Ten other Rugby League players from the university make up the majority of the squad; they are currently riding high near the top of National South League.
A number of them, such as Ben Stead, have already featured for England in the World Cup this summer. Ben has also recently signed a professional contract with Coventry Bears for 2018, after playing for Gloucestershire All Golds in 2017 Kingstone Press League 1.
Errol Carter, Luke Stephens and James Mason from University of Gloucestershire have also featured for the All Golds in 2017, and Errol was lucky enough to play against the Toronto Wolfpack in Canada.
Kyle John (Cardiff Met) and Jordan Smith (University of Bath) have also crossed codes as they currently play Rugby Union at University.
South West Team Manager Chatten, who is also Bath Rugby League Club Coordinator, said: “It is a great opportunity for students to showcase their Rugby League talent and put themselves in the shop window for a professional contract, as well as focusing on progressing through the England Pathway.
“Rugby League is still a relatively untapped sport for development in the area. We are working hard in the region on ways to expand the game in the universities sector, the community regional West of England representative team and, of course, with my club side Bath. Exciting times are ahead.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in Rugby League in the area – be it as a fan, supporter, sponsor, player or official – with passion, desire and excitement for the sport, is asked to get in touch with Chatten on 07810 552196 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The South West’s 20-man squad is: Josh Verity, Errol Carter, Callum Merrett, Josh Frost, Ben Stead, Paul Bolger, Luke Stephens, Harris Jones, James Mason, Lewis McCracken, Callum Bradbury (all University of Gloucestershire), Jack Ellis, Dominic Brooke, Josh Graham, Alex Ford, Brandon Jones (all University of Exeter), Jordan Smith (University of Bath), Lartey Laryea (Swansea University), Kyle Johns (Cardiff Met University), Alex Mayo (University of Bristol).