With the Irish and Italian squad announcements being made yesterday (Billy Burns for the former, Seb Negri, Callum Braley and Stephen Varney for the latter) the total number of former Hartpury students and rugby players named in national squads for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations has risen to eleven.
The full list is:
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby), Wales
Alex Craig (Gloucester Rugby), Scotland
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), England
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), England
Dan Robson (Wasps), England
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs), England
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears), England
Billy Burns (Ulster), Ireland
Sebastian Negri (Benetton Treviso), Italy
Callum Braley (Benetton Treviso), Italy
Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby), Italy
Missing from the list is Ross Moriarty (Dragons), whose ankle injury prevented him from joining up with Wales. Also missing the tournament through injury are two further Hartpury connections, Jake Polledri (Gloucester Rugby, Italy) and Adam Hasting (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland).
Clearly, most of the credit for this phenomenal list goes to the players themselves. However, this is perhaps a moment to consider the input of coaches at Hartpury. The more experienced alumni, such as Jonny May and Dan Robson would have grown up under the tutelage of Allan Lewis, while his successor as Director of Rugby, Alan Martinovic, also had a major input to the development of players between 2011 and 2016.
Our Junior Academy (Under 18) managers have included Barry Maddocks (now Dragons) and Sean Marsden (now Bears), while the current incumbent is Wayne Thompson. Players coming through the BUCS Super Rugby squad will have been heavily influenced by Sean Lynn. Within the past 10 years, of course, we have seen the input of current DoR, John Barnes, and our RFC Head Coach, Mark Cornwell, as well as the experience of former professional players such as Rhys Oakley, Dan Murphy, Luke Eves, Jonny Goodridge (now Worcester Warriors) and Mark Irish (also now Worcester Warriors).
Much of what we do would not be possible without the efforts of our medical teams and other coaching and performance analysis staff, nor without the superb physical environment created by the institution itself.
Congratulations to everybody involved in this achievement!