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Rugby festival at Suffolk school

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 March 2010

ON the day England's rugby internationals attempted to secure the Grand Slam in Ireland a host of potential stars of the future were scrumming down at St Joseph's College.

ON the day England's rugby internationals attempted to secure the Grand Slam in Ireland a host of potential stars of the future were scrumming down at St Joseph's College.

While the England team were aiming to clinch the Six Nations title at Lansdowne Road, Ipswich played host to one of the most prestigious tournaments for youngsters in the country.

The St Joseph's Festival, held at the Belstead Road school, sees 16 teams from across the country battling it out to win the coveted De La Salle Trophy.

And top rugby union scouts were expected to be in attendance to observe the talent on show at a tournament that has been one of the starting points for future internationals.

The annual event, which is now in its fifteenth year, has provided one of the first stages for several players who went on to make a name in the game, including former England cap Tony Diprose.

Now scouts will be hoping to find the next Jonny Wilkinson or Martin Johnson among the hopefuls in Ipswich.

The festival was established by former St Joseph's College headmaster John Regan, and has proved to be one of the most popular dates on the region's rugby calendar.

Last year more than 3,000 people turned up to admire the skills of the young players. A similar figure is expected over the next two days.

Today the group stages were contested with eight teams heading into Sunday's main tournament and the others playing for pride in the plate.

The Ipswich school will be trying for victory in shirts presented to them by former England international Martin Bayfield, and they will be hoping they might bring a bit of luck – the school has not reached the final of the event since becoming champions in 1995.

If they are to win on home soil they might also have to overcome an Irish team – the defending champions, Blackrock College of Dublin.

N See Monday's Evening Star for a double page picture spread on the action and match reports

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