Loughborough College rugby player Leah Bartlett has been selected for the England U20s squad – the second international player this year to be produced by the College’s brand new girls’ RFU programme.
Fellow students Amy Relf and Lauren Rigby joined Leah at the England trial and have both been named for the U18s national Talent Development Group for 2016-17.
Amy is also in line for the U18 European 7’s Championships in France, taking place this summer, after securing a coveted place on the national U18 7’s training squad.
Loughborough College’s Ellen Dewson, who is also on the programme, made her international rugby debut in the spring after receiving her call up for Scotland U20s to play against Belgium’s Senior side.
Seven young players were chosen to join the College-based Midlands programme which, although still in its launch year, has had huge success with four international triallists, Leah and Ellen selected for England and Scotland’s U20s , two players selected for the 2016-17 U18 national Talent Development Group, two selected to play for the Midlands U18s Academy 7’s and two to represent the U18 national Talent Development Group against Canada U18s in 2015-16.
Leah, 17, from Loughborough, who studies BTEC Sports Science with the College, said: “It was great to be selected for England. I went to the U20s trial last year when I was only 16 and wasn’t successful. But after being on the programme at Loughborough College for almost a year I felt I had really benefited from my lessons and additional training and went in feeling much more confident.
“I am really hoping to make the team for three test matches against Canada this summer. It will be made up of players from last season’s squad and from the new one and will be playing overseas as well as in the UK.
“There will then be another opportunity for squad selection to play against France in Spring 2017.
“I am so grateful to the College and the programme. Their support has been amazing. I am getting so many opportunities. I feel proud to have achieved this at only 17.”
Amy Relf, 17, who also lives in Loughborough and is studying BTEC Sports Science with the College said: “It was my first year trialling for England U20s and although I wasn’t selected it was a great experience – and I was thrilled to be put forward for the U18 national Traning Development Group.
“It was also amazing to fin out that I had been chosen for the U18 7’s training squad. I have several training camps this summer and could end up being selected to play against France.
“I have really enjoyed this first year on the programme at the College in the classroom and on the pitch. And after all the fantastic things that have happened this year, I am really looking forward to seeing what next year brings.”
“I have developed massively as a player and personally since joining the College. I’ve learnt so much. To be knocking on the door of the England trials has been like a dream come true,” added Lauren Rigby, 17, who is studying for Biology A-level and BTEC Sports Science with the College.
“I was nervous but I got so much help from the College. Everyone was so proud when I made the U18 national Training Development Group for the second year in a row.
“It was also amazing to play internationally, against Canada, in April and to help win both games.
“These are big challenges but I feel really looked after here and that helps you get your head in the right place and work hard. It has been great to be amongst the first into the Midlands programme and set the benchmark. I am really excited to see what the future could hold.”
Chris Parr, RFU Women’s AASE Coordinator at Loughborough College, said: “To get recognized for England and Scotland in your first year is amazing. I feel very proud to see Leah and Ellen capped for their sport – and the fact that Amy and Lauren were eligible and tackled their trial confidently puts them in a great position to have a good crack at it again next year. To make the national Training Development Group is a massive achievement and a major step towards international rugby.
“It is brilliant to see how much all the players have achieved and grown through their education and sport on the programme.
“We do all we can to help them all attain their goals, achieve recognition and be given as many opportunities as possible.
“We are set to recruit even more players next year onto the programme and we are really looking forward to building on this year’s successes.”
Pictured: (left to right) Loughborough College RFU programme students Leah Bartlett, Amy Relf and Lauren Rigby
Elizabeth Udall, Communications Consultant:
Tel: 07515 852690