PERFORMANCE PATHWAYS: RUGBY

The 2020/2021 season presented new and significant challenges to the Downside Rugby programme. In spite of this, Downside pupils continued to flourish at various stages of the performance pathway.

In Third Form, four pupils were nominated for Bath DPP (Developing Player Programme). Sadly their trials were cancelled due to the January lockdown. Hopefully the trials will be rearranged in the summer, and we wish all the best when they do come around.

In April, three Fourth Formers attended trail for Bath U15 PDG (Player Development Group) having been part of the DPP last season. Two were retained for an extended trial and have been training through May. The third has been retained for the 2021/22 season into the Bath U16 DPP. He will be joined by another new Downside nominee who successfully trialled during April to join the Bath U16 DPP.

Downside’s involvement in the performance pathway has grown significantly in the past few seasons at the U18 and U17 level. In the Lower Sixth, Max, Archie and Abdul-Khalik were all retained in the Bath U17s, having excelled in the U16 County and Academy programmes. All three pupils have been involved at various stages throughout the season in the Bath U18s training group too. Khalik’s continued development on and off the pitch led to him being awarded with England Academy Player (EAP) status, and invited to train with England U18s. A season-ending injury has unfortunately led to him being unable to take part in Bath U18s fixtures this season. No doubt he will come back stronger next season. New Sixth Form scholar, Zak, has found success across the border with Cardiff Blues. He has taken part in trials for their U17 group and continues to be involved with their pathway.

Upper Sixth Former, Kofi has been a wonderful example of the journey an aspiring young rugby player can go on at Downside. Having been at school since the Third Form, Kofi has been involved at every stage of the Bath Academy Pathway. He has worked incredibly hard on and off the pitch to make the most of his talents. Subsequently, Kofi has been offered a Bath Rugby Academy Scholarship Award. He hopes to combine his studies in Mathematics at the University of Bath while continuing with his rugby development with the University in the BUCS Super League.

Finally, Old Gregorian and ex-1st XV captain Ethan Morgan (B20), has recently been invited to play for Bath Rugby’s A-League team, Bath United, having been a part of the U18s group in his final year at school. He has been involved in wins against Gloucester and the Harlequins, impressing in both games at fullback. Ethan continues to be part of the Welsh Rugby National Age Grade programmes and was selected for the Wales U20s Six Nations training squad, before – regrettably – the tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Downside continues to provide amazing support for young rugby players with aspirations to become the best versions of themselves and play the professional game. Pupils past and present are wonderful role models, showcasing what can be achieved through commitment, hard work and taking the opportunities provided them at Downside.

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