Famous names can inspire players at St Joseph’s Rugby Festival
‘It’s your time to shine’.
Those are the sentiments of St Joseph’s College’s director of sport, Mark Patterson, ahead of the annual rugby spectacular at the Ipswich school this weekend.
The hosts are one of 16 under-18 teams hoping to land the Festival Trophy on Sunday afternoon and emulate the class of 2013.
Not only would a St Jo’s victory provide a huge boost to new director of rugby, Anthony O’Riordan, it would also see the college’s current crop of youngsters write their entries into tournament folklore, just like numerous famous names before them.
Ex-England skipper and World Cup winner Mike Tindall, current England World Cup players Jonathan Joseph and Mako Vunipola and Wales’ Sam Warburton, are just four names to have graced the fields at the prestigious festival in Belstead Road.
Northampton Saints’ Ipswich-born player, Lewis Ludlam, meanwhile, skippered St Jo’s to victory two years ago.
“I always talk (to St Jo’s players) about playing against someone who will go on to be an international player,” said Patterson.
“There are numerous international players that have taken part at the Festival. One that stands out is Jonathan Joseph (Millfield), who was head and shoulders above everyone else in 2008, while last year’s Player of the Tournament, Zach Mercer, has signed a professional contract with Bath.
“The best players at the tournament tend to go on and play professional rugby.”
O’Riordan, who is also head coach at Colchester, will lead the team, having taken over from predecessor, Joel Unsworth.
“While I am hoping to see some great rugby played this weekend, for me it’s about building a rugby programme that will service the whole school,” he said.
“I am taking a top down approach so the year sevens can look at what the senior boys are doing and apply the same methods.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, he added: “I want the players to play without a fear of failure. Defence is the absolute foundation and I always say defences win championships, attacks win games.”
The tournament kicks-off on Saturday at 9am and consists of four pools of four, with the final on Sunday afternoon (4.15pm).
Admission is free on foot, car parking is £5 (including a £3 programme) and refreshments will be available.
St Jo’s face Whitchurch, Solihull and Hampton in the pool stage.
Other teams include last year’s winners, Millfield, and RGS High Wycombe.