Ipswich duo win England call-up
PUBLISHED: 13:24 22 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010
RUGBY UNION: Two teenagers from Ipswich Rugby Club have achieved every players dream – to represent their country. Winger Tavela Kwilimbe and prop forward Robbie Kalbraier – both products of Ipswich's successful junior coaching system – have been called up for England youth sides.
Two teenagers from Ipswich Rugby Club have achieved every players dream – to represent their country.
Winger Tavela Kwilimbe and prop forward Robbie Kalbraier – both products of Ipswich's successful junior coaching system – have been called up for England youth sides.
Seventeen-year-old Tavela, who attends Deben High School in Felixstowe, is in the England Under 18 team. Sixteen-year-old Robbie, a pupil at St Joseph's College in Ipswich, is in the England A Under 16 schools side.
Tavela has already made two England appearances, but is still looking for his first international victory. England Under 18's were beaten by England Schools representative side 10-5 and last weekend lost by just one point to Scotland A.
There are three more internationals to follow in the coming weeks, against Wales, Ireland and Scotland Under 18's.
"We were leading against Scotland A but they landed a late penalty to win the game" said Tavela. "So I very much hope we can win in the Home International series and it would be fantastic if I could manage to score my first try for England."
Robbie makes his England debut next week for the Under-16 schools A team against Wales A at Pontypridd. He is also one of the youngest members of the St Joseph's College school first fifteen.
He is currently captain of Suffolk Schools U-16 team and last year captained Ipswich RFC U-15s.
"I started playing rugby as a ten year old in the mini's at Ipswich and have progressed from there" he said. Now I can't wait to play in an England shirt."
The 5ft 11in tall prop, who weighs 95 kgs, graduated through Eastern Counties Schools games before
gaining selection for London and South East England division, finally earning his England call up.
Winger Kwilimbe, who stands 6ft 2ins tall and weighs 75kg, was spotted by Ipswich's director of rugby, Mike Hancock, playing in a state school tournament, organised by the club at Humber Doucy Lane five years ago.
"He came from a non-rugby playing school but it was clear he had natural talent. In fact he was voted player of the tournament and since then has made fantastic progress," he said.
"We are very proud of both of them, making it to England level and it is a great honour for Ipswich Rugby Club.
"It is also a huge acknowledgement of the work put in by Ipswich coaches Bryan Caley, Tony Witham and this year Darren Hines in our schools rugby development programme.
"I am sure there are other potential top class rugby players of the future out there and this is the proof that with the right coaching we can help them move on to the top international level."
The last Ipswich player to achieve England honours was winger Mark Bailey in the 1980s. He was selected for the full England side – almost ten years after another Ipswich winger, Derek Wyatt, turned out for England in the then Five Nations championship. Wyatt was a master at Ipswich School.