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Bishop's set for test of stamina

31 January 2007

Steve Bradley, coach of the Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School, has praised the character of his players in reaching the quarter-finals of the Daily Mail Under-15 Schools Cup for the first time, but it will be their stamina which will be tested when they make the long trek to Brighton College on February 7.

Bishop's reached the last eight the hard way, winning consecutive away games at Warwick and King Edward VI, Five Ways, in the previous two rounds. They now face an even longer trip to the south coast and one that will require them to make a ten hour return trip.

"It's a fatntastic achievement for a state school to reach the last eight of a national competition," Bradley said.

"But we now face the prospect of a long day trip to Brighton. We would have liked the game to have been played at a neutral venue somewhere between the two schools but it's luck of the draw in the quarter-final and Brighton got the home tie.

"We can't afford the luxury of staying overnight because we simply don't have the money available to pay for a hotel. It will cost us about �1,000 in travel expenses as it is.

"So it will be a big test for us. It's a five hour journey each way which means that we will be leaving at around 7am. Quite a number of our players live in farming communities in the outlying areas around Hereford so they will have to be up at around 6 to make sure that they get here in time.

"Goodness knows what time we will get home but it's going to be at least midnight which does make it a very long day for us.

"The players showed a lot of character to win two away games in the previous rounds but this will be a real test for them."

Bishop's celebrated the 40th anniversary of rugby at the school last year with a series of events including a dinner and have enjoyed Daily Mail success in the years either side as they were beaten quarter-finalists two years ago.

Bradley, a former Hereford coach, is reluctant to talk up any of his players individually. "We are a very workmanlike side," he said. "There are no star players but they work together as a team which helped them to grind out the victories at Warwick and Five Ways.

"We don't yet know how many of them will go on to play county rugby because the Herefordshire selectors have postponed the county trials as a result of the cup run."