- Newcomers broaden traditional stronghold
- State school duo in ground breaking game
The reputation of Barnard Castle as a centre of rugby excellence has been carried for many years by the successes of the school which carries the name of the community, but a crucial new initiative in the town has claimed a share of the spotlight for the first time.
It may be a while before the town boasts an international from the local club, but a recent game hosted by the Birch Road club was a major step forward for another branch of schools rugby in the community.
Teesdale and Staindrop do not figure prominently in the compendium of schools rugby successes, but following the first game ever played between the two state schools recently at Under 15 level, that omission will surely be rectified in years to come as the proud rugby traditions of the town and Durham county support further growth.
Community Rugby Coach Chris Simpson has been working with both the club and the schools to forge links and drive the project forward.
“These are the only two local schools around Barnard Castle RUFC and they’re the only two state schools around the club for many a mile.” said Matt Bryan, Rugby Development Officer for Durham. “It’s great that Chris has got them playing and hopefully they will now form a productive feeder for the club.”
Said CRC Simpson: “We had great support from both schools and from the club at the game and saw an excellent match played in just the right spirit. I’m already looking forward to the next game in September and to working with the lads in preparation for that.
“The club also deserves great credit for their fantastic hospitality and for all the support provided by club members who came and supported both teams whether it be through coaching or just watching the match.”
Said David Jackson, Chairman of Barnard Castle RUFC: “It’s great to see the two schools playing rugby and getting a taste of what the game has to offer. Obviously our doors are always open to any youngsters in the community who fancy putting a toe in the water and I’d love to build stronger links with the Teesdale and Staindrop schools in the future.”
The proud record of Barnard Castle School was decorated once again recently when three ‘old boys’ were in action in the Premiership final between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Twickenham.
Mathew Tait, Lee Dickson and Calum Clark were part of the Premiership showpiece and all three – along with a lengthy list of players who have gone on to reach the pinnacle of achievement – cut their teeth at ‘Barnie’.
For Master in Charge of rugby, Luke Monument, the final represented another big day for the school and a reminder of a proud heritage of which he is now the custodian.
For Director of Sport Martin Pepper, who steered the trio through their school days, the Twickenham finale inspired fond memories.
He said: “All three players had their first experience of running out at Twickenham whilst at school – Mathew and Lee in 2003 and Calum in 2007. Both Calum and Lee captained their sides and for Lee it was particularly memorable as it was also his 18th birthday.”
Footnote: Barnard Castle RUFC were recently awarded RFU Accreditation, an official benchmark which confirms that the clubs has all the necessary structures and systems in place to conform to RFU best practice standards.