A number of emerging Gloucester Rugby talents have joined the Hartpury University RFC squad ahead of the upcoming Greene King IPA Championship season, now just two weeks away.
Many of them are are no strangers to rugby at Hartpury, being either current or former students of the institution. Some have cut their teeth in Red & Black by playing in the Under-18 AASE league, before signing full-time academy contracts at Gloucester, while a number continue to link in to Hartpury University for undergraduate study.
The players have been training with the Hartpury squad for a number of weeks now and will be available for selection.
Seb Blake – Hooker
Arthur Clark – Lock*
Josh Gray – Back Row
Joe Howard – Back Row*
Harry Taylor – Back Row
Matty Jones – Scrum Half
Isaac Marsh – Centre*
Tom Stanton – Centre
* Denotes current or former Hartpury student
Of those who have studied, or are studying, at Hartpury, Joe Howard is a former AASE-winning skipper who had a brief initial taste of Premiership rugby at the tail of the interrupted 2019-20 campaign. He has been capped by England at age-group level.
Arthur Clark has received international recognition more recently, having been named in the England Under-20 squad that will contest the Six Nations later this year, while Isaac March was also a successful member of the AASE squad.
Hartpury DoR, John Barnes, said, “It’s great to have some of the talented academy players from Gloucester with us and available for selection. They – like all our players – are desperate to play after nearly a year with no matches.”
“A number are former and current students, so we are pleased to have them on board, knowing the Hartpury way and the work that goes in to preparing for matches. I’ve been impressed with all the additions so far, with both their attitude and skill levels.”
“It’s bolstered our squad, which I’m sure is something we will need once we start matches. Such a long lay off is bound to have an effect, in the form of injuries, once the games start. That will be the same for all teams and it makes for a challenging season.”
“But the main thing is that rugby is back on – and that’s a relief to everyone!”
Obviously, we are hoping that these players will be able to help us in achieving some strong results this season. However, it’s important to remember that this is just as an important an opportunity for the players themselves.
Peter Walton, Head of Academy at Gloucester Rugby, said the relationship with Hartpury, where the club’s training centre is based, is providing the players with an opportunity to gain valuable game time when Championship fixtures resume.
“There’s no substitute for playing – you need to play,” he said. “That’s why it’s important, with our relationship with Hartpury RFC and BUCS, that our players are able to get some rugby.
“We’d rather have our players playing than being sat in the gym – they need to be playing rugby.
“Hopefully they get some game time with Hartpury – there is no guarantee as they’ve got a big squad – and they’ve been training with Hartpury for the last three months.
“It’s a good chance for them to play some Championship rugby if they get the opportunity.”
Separately, the club can announce the signing of experienced hooker, Nick Selway. Nick’s parent club, London Scottish, have declined to participate in this season’s Championship rendering Nick, and a number of his colleagues, available on short term contracts. Previously Nick had spent a number of seasons with Jersey Reds and he has also had spells with Cinderford, Lydney and, most recently, Chinnor. We are happy to have his experience at this level in our squad for the season ahead.