Pennyhill Park is beckoning for Hartpury RFC again as they prepare to help England continue their RBS Six Nations winning streak.
Head coach Eddie Jones’ squad have asked Hartpury RFC to train with them again on Thursday (February 25th) ahead of their clash with Ireland at Twickenham on February 27th, when they will bid to build on their two opening victories over Scotland and Italy and move a step closer to clinching the championship.
This will be third time that Hartpury’s young rugby talent has been asked to assist England with their Six Nations match preparations, having already taken part in sessions at their Surrey training base ahead of England’s matches with Scotland in the 2015 tournament and in the build-up to this year’s Calcutta Cup battle.
A 15-strong Hartpury team took part in a 90-minute training session with England’s 23-man squad before their 15-9 win at Murrayfield earlier this month.
The squad of mostly students proving strong and skilled opposition as England tested their lineout and driving maul and moved the ball at lightning speed through the phases, with head coach Jones telling the national media after the session: “They were good. They gave us a bit of a touch up at times. It is great getting those young kids in. It brings that edge to training."
The England squad will again come up against a number of young players with hopes of one day playing for their country at senior level, not least England Under-20s number eight Will Safe, who said on the last visit to Pennyhill Park: “It’s a massive opportunity to play with the current England squad; to have fresh faces to train with and see the intensity they train at. It’s a fantastic place with fantastic facilities and I’d love to be here every day. Hopefully one day!”
He will head back to Surrey next week with 13 other Hartpury RFC players, including centre Steve Leonard, who missed out on the last session due to injury.
They could also run into another Hartpury student, Dan Peacock, at Pennyhill Park, with the Sports Conditioning and Injury Management degree student supporting England’s Strength and Conditioning team this week. Dan is currently an intern with Gloucester Rugby’s S and C team, gaining valuable hands-on experience while he continues his studies at Hartpury.
Hartpury Principal, Russell Marchant, said: "It’s a huge compliment to the strength of Hartpury’s rugby set-up, pedigree and reputation that England have asked us to help them fine-tune their preparations for these sessions during such a high-profile tournament.
“We’re very proud to have been invited back and to have won such high praise from Eddie Jones and his staff. These opportunities – both the training session and Dan’s chance to support England’s S and C team - will certainly act as an inspiration to our players as they follow their own dreams on and off the field.”
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Hartpury RFC players likely to travel to Pennyhill Park: Joe Dancer, Will Safe, Rhys Oakley, James Voss, Tom MacDonald, Dan Thomas, Gareth Evans, Steve Leonard, Luke Eves, Jonus Mikalcius, Jamie Forrester, George Boulton, Jacob Perry, Gareth Thompson.