Young rugby players represent Barkign and Dagenham College on overseas tour
- Credit: Archant
Young rugby players are on their first ever tour – and hopefully creating a new tradition.
Twenty-three students from Barking and Dagenham College Rugby Academy travelled to Perpignan in south-west France on January 9, where they are spending two weeks both enjoying the sights and training hard.
James Faminu, who is from Chingford and in the second year of his Rugby Academy BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport course, said: “This is one of the best countries to visit for rugby.”
The youngsters have been training with players from the academy at the local club, USA Perpignan, and James soon found some differences in the local game. “French rugby is a lot faster than British rugby so it involved a lot more running and passing than I was used to.”
As well as playing rugby, the students have also got to watch plenty of the sport and represented Barking and Dagenham College as special guests at the USA Perpignan first team’s home match against Aurillac on Sunday.
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“At half time we did a lap around the pitch with our college flags as their guests of honour,” James said. “We got a few cheers and waves from the crowd which was a great experience to enjoy.”
It’s not all games though, as the students have been making the most of the cultural and academic opportunities on offer by visiting a nearby castle and taking French lessons at the Alfmed school for languages.
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Although they prefer the pitch, the sports-mad students weren’t bored in the classroom, as they knew the language skills could help them follow in the boots of Essex-born prop Alex Brown, who joined the French team in 2016.
James, 17, said “I know it would come in handy if any of us ever wanted to play rugby in France or even just to visit the country,” and he summed the trip up as “a wonderful experience I’m sure I won’t forget”.
It’s one that will soon be available to more young people, as the college hopes the tour will become an annual event. The second half of the Rugby Academy’s students will make the same trip in April.