St Joseph’s College rugby union quartet gain professional deals with Bath, Northampton Saints, Clermont Auvergne and Oyonnax

Austin Beckett, George Wacokecoke, Karl Wilkins, Dan Lewis, Lewis Ludlam

Austin Beckett, George Wacokecoke, Karl Wilkins, Dan Lewis, Lewis Ludlam - Credit: Archant

Ipswich’s brightest young rugby union talents have landed prestigious professional deals with some of the biggest names in the European game.

St Joseph’s College quartet Lewis Ludlam, George Wacokecoke, Dan Lewis and Karl Wilkins are set to make a dramatic step up after signing contracts with Premiership champions Northampton Saints, Bath, and French duo Oyonnax and Clermont Auvergne respectively.

In a further boost for the Belstead Road-based college, England under-16 and 17 international wing Austin Beckett will be progressing his career when he starts tertiary education at Loughborough.

Director of sport at St Jo’s, Mark Patterson, said: “Maybe we will provide the new Jonny Wilkinson now that he has retired and we have two of our boys playing professional rugby in France.

“The boys have demonstrated the importance that St Joseph’s College places on physical as well as academic development as part of a balanced education. These are incredible achievements and opportunities for all the boys. The college is immensely proud of them all and wish them every success as they embark on a fantastic journey.”

Back row Ludlam, who skippered his school to their third St Jo’s Festival victory last year, has signed a two-year deal with the Saints and is already making a name for himself, having been named man of the match in England under-18s Six Nations 18-17 victory against France, in March.

Wing Wacokecoke, meanwhile, who has featured for the England under-18s against Wales is joining Bath, and fly-half Lewis, who represented England U18 Schools and Clubs against France and Ireland, will be moving to eastern France with Oyonnax.

Most Read

As for second row Wilkins, he has signed a three-year deal with Clermont, having impressed at a training session with last year’s Heineken Cup runners-up.

The news will come as a welcome fillip for the college’s new director of rugby Joel Unsworth, who will begin pre-season training at St Jo’s in August before starting his permanent role a month later.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter