England Women’s first Grand Slam since 2012, courtesy of a resolute 34-7 win over Ireland at Donnybrook, delighted their Head Coach Simon Middleton. However, he insists his side will now concentrate on getting even better. “The difference between winning and not winning in Ireland would have been huge,” said Middleton. “The victory gives us a springboard now and keeps our winning mentality going. It also gives us confidence that what we’re doing is right. We know we can get better, fitter and stronger.

“That will be our next focus, but to come here to the lion’s den and beat a side that are going to be hosting the World Cup is massive for us.

I’m absolutely thrilled.” The Red Roses scored tries through Amy Wilson Hardy, Laura Keates, Amy Cokayne, England Head Coach Eddie Jones says England are determined to be the first side to win three consecutive RBS 6 Nations titles, having defended their Championship with victories over France, Wales, Italy and Scotland, while missing out on a defended Grand Slam with defeat in Ireland. He will use the summer tour to Argentina to improve the depth of the squad, but said: “We are in a much better position than we were 12 months ago and we are in a much better position than we were six months ago.

“I’ve learned more about the players, the team has developed, we are more adaptable and have greater depth. We are moving in the right direction. At the end of the day, we have back-to-back RBS 6 Nations trophies which is a fine achievement.” England’s world record equalling unbeaten run of 18 matches came to an end in Ireland, together with their hopes of becoming the first side in the professional era to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 1 LOOKING FOR HISTORIC THIRD SIX NATIONS TITLE The Official Newspaper of The RFU TOUCHLINE April 2017 Issue 200 Continued on page 2 Continued on page 2 Dean Ryan hailed England Under 20s Grand Slam as a great achievement. The U20s – captained by Bath back-row forward Zach Mercer – secured their first Grand Slam since 2011 with a hard fought 14-10 victory over Ireland in Dublin. “Winning a Grand Slam is a great achievement,” said Ryan, RFU Head of GRAND SLAM FOR RED ROSES SPRINGBOARD FOR WORLD CUP Continued on page 2 TURIA TELLWRIGHT AFTER SLAM COMES JUNIOR WORLD CUP CHALLENGE International Player Development.

“Everyone deserves an enormous amount of credit, all the coaches and all the people that work in the programme. I think it is great for them.” The U20s coaching staff used 37 players across the tournament, and Ryan praised the squad’s strength-in-depth. Please click here for stats about England’s record run


GRAND SLAM FOR RED ROSES SPRINGBOARD FOR WORLD CUP NEWARK DEVELOPING PLAYERS TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 2 Continued from page 1 Newark Rugby Club are celebrating the achievement of having a player selected for the England Counties under-18s squad for a fourth successive season. Fly half Matt Law is following in the footsteps of two wings in Ben Dixon and Ben Usher plus back-row forward James Newman. Law, who has played regularly in the first team this season at the Midlands Two North East club, is a pupil at King’s School in Grantham and his brother Jonny, who is in the Leicester Tigers academy, is part of the club’s successful under-16s squad.

He earned his place via the divisional selection process by playing for the Midlands.

Club president Alan Swain said: “This achievement could well be unsurpassed by a junior community club and highlights the fantastic work of our senior youth coaching team and the support network of all club officials and parents. The results speak for themselves.” The quartet are following a distinguished ‘internationals’ group at the club led by life member Dusty Hare, and vice president John Wells. Newark are looking to build on their present strong mini and youth set up – which numbers well over 400 this season – by re-establishing a coaching initiative at the town’s Magnus School. Almost 100 years ago, it was teachers and pupils at the school who helped to form the club which originally ran as an old boys’ club.

Newark are also progressing off the pitch through the development of a new clubhouse helped by a loan from the RFU. The first phase of a changing room block is due to be completed this summer. ENGLAND PLAYERS LAUNCH MITSUBISHI MOTORS EXETER SEVENS LOOKING FOR HISTORIC THIRD SIX NATIONS TITLE Jones says his side can still achieve greatness. “The great thing for us is that we’ve won back-to-back RBS 6 Nations trophies and no one has ever won three in a row,” he says. “So we are still in a position where we could achieve a record in the competition.” And with several key members of the squad likely to tour New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions this summer, he sees the two-Test series in Argentina as the perfect opportunity to add experience to the group.

“2017 has always been about improving the depth of the squad,” he said. “I’d like to think at the end of the year we’ll have a greater depth, will have three or four players for each position and if we do that I’ll look back at 2017 as a successful year. “We go to Argentina for two Tests, we know they are going to be at full strength. We are playing in towns with hostile crowds and it’ll be a great learning experience. It’s going to be fun, a great cultural experience and a great chance to see where young players are up to and whether they can be exposed to a World Cup in two years time.” Emily Scarratt and Lydia Thompson, with Scarratt ending the match with a personal haul of 14 points.

Ireland scored a consolation try of their own through hooker Leah Lyons but it was not enough to prevent England’s first Six Nations win in Ireland since 2011.

Their Six Nations saw England Women beat France 26-13 at Twickenham, turning around a 13-0 half time deficit, the biggest half time comeback ever in the Women’s Six Nations. They then ran in 11 tries at BT Cardiff Arms Park, Lydia Thompson’s hat trick helping to put Wales to the sword 63-0. That was followed by a 29-15 win against Italy at the Twickenham Stoop, where Kay Wilson ran in an amazing seven tries against Scotland in the 64-0 victory. Ryan’s attention is now focused on the World Rugby U20 Championships in May and June, and he says England must improve if they are to win successive titles.

“To win a World Cup they have to be better than they were against Ireland,” he explained. “The team recognises that. The Junior World Cup is the next challenge to see if you have the base of a good team, and you have to strive for good performance and good progress.” England U20s sealed the Six Nations title with a 33-5 win against Scotland on the penultimate weekend, having beaten Italy 46-0, Wales 37-21 and France 59-17. In Ireland, captain Zach Mercer paid tribute to his team mates, especially for their resilience late on. “It was awesome, fair play to Ireland, we were probably too complacent in that second half, but I can’t say how proud I am of the boys,” he said.

“To go back on the plane with the boys knowing we’ve won it is amazing. I’m over the moon.” England U20 coach Tom Williams added: “We made it hard for ourselves. However the team have shown a lot of backbone and character and that is what is so promising about this group of players. We know we can’t rest on our laurels and there is a lot to work on ahead of the U20 World Championship but we have a good platform to build from.” AFTER SLAM COMES JUNIOR WORLD CUP CHALLENGE Continued from page 1 Continued from page 1 England Sevens players Tom Bowen and Charlton Kerr were on hand to launch the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter 7s which returns this year from 15-16 July.

They were joined by Academy player Calum Sirker, as well as Exeter’s Deputy Lord Mayor and a host of local rugby clubs.

The Exeter round will be the final stage of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series 2017 which kicks off in Russia on Saturday, 3 June then moves to Poland from 10–11 June. “It was great to meet the Exeter locals today and see their excitement ahead of the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens this summer,” said Tom Bowen. “It’s a great tournament and a brilliant experience playing different teams on the European circuit.” This year, clubs from the local area have been assigned adopted nations to support and welcome to Exeter ahead of their involvement in the tournament.

“It’s more than just the on-field rugby, it’s about community and through the adopt a nation campaign, it gives the Exeter community an opportunity to rub shoulders with the elite rugby players throughout Europe,” said Director of Professional Rugby at the RFU, Nigel Melville.

Tony Rowe, CEO of Exeter Chiefs, said he was looking forward to welcoming the tournament once again. “Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens has become one of the highlights of Exeter’s sporting calendar, reinforcing its place as the sporting capital of the South West.” 15-16 July – Tickets now on sale MATCH OFFICIALS CHOSEN When England take on Argentina Nigel Owens will referee their first Test in San Juan on 10 June assisted by Johnny Lacey and Egon Seconds. The second Test on 17 June in Sante Fe will be officiated by Lacey, with Owens and Seconds assisting him.

Rugby Football Union referees Matthew Carley, Luke Pearce, Wayne Barnes and JP Doyle have also been assigned matches for upcoming Tests. Carley takes charge of Australia v Fiji on 10 June and Pearce United States v Ireland on the same day. Barnes takes charge of Australia v Scotland on 17 June, Doyle has Japan v Ireland a week later and Pearce officiates Argentina v Georgia also on the 24th. Carley will also be the referee for Australia v Italy on 24 June.


TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 3 ENGLAND COUNTIES OVERCOME IRELAND IN CORK Running a rugby club is no small feat, with most rugby clubs run by volunteers who give up their time to keep their local club active, alongside work and family life.

Club spend can be hard to balance. Keeping track and price increases can be hard work. But EnglandRugbyDeals can assist you, they can help you save time and money with your club’s overheads. East London RFC is just one of the many clubs helped. After an initial visit to kick start their saving analysis and a telephone savings workshop in January, EnglandRugbyDeals identified savings of just under £1500. From that they helped arrange Portable Appliance Testing and Legionella Testing at the club. This eliminated the need for the club to source their own supplier using EnglandRugbyDeals’ preferential rates instead.

Centre Manager, Alison Davenport said: “Most clubs should take advantage of EnglandRugbyDeals on the basis of saving time, money and, in some instances, earning the club money for example with the Booker deal. There are no disadvantages to anyone.” East London have now signed up for the Booker Rebate and the Screwfix 5% discount deals. Other areas which East London are going to review are Waste Management, Pest Control and Cleaning.

The benefits of a visit mean East London have a full breakdown of their spend, detailing all their expenditure by supplier and by category. In addition, they get pro-active contract renewal reminders and help as and when service contracts come up for renewal. The club has access to a portfolio of competitive deals from market-leading suppliers, with a team of professional buyers on hand to help advise them as and when required. England Counties beat an Ireland Club XV 34-26 in a tense encounter at Cork Constitution. It was a high tempo affair, with England needing a late second-half surge to quell the Irish in a competitive encounter on Temple Hill.

The victory was England’s second of the season following their 45-28 victory over Scotland in February.

“After the first half we controlled the ball well against a strong wind but we gave Ireland a few silly points,” said England Head Coach James Shanahan. “This is a tough place to come and win, but now it’s one defeat in seventeen to us and we are pretty happy with that record.” RFU APPOINTS HEAD OF SPORTS & MEDICINE Mark Bennett is to join the RFU as Head of Sports Science and Medicine in July, and will be responsible for creating and implementing a programme to maximise the athletic development of players across England’s international teams, outside the men’s senior squad.

Reporting to Professional Rugby Director, Nigel Melville, Bennett will manage the sports science and medical team that supports the women, sevens and player pathway including analysis, anti-doping, conditioning, nutrition, psychology, research and sports medicine.

He will ensure alignment between teams and further relationships with professional clubs to optimise player development. Bennett is currently Head of Performance at Bristol Rugby having begun his coaching career with the Bristol Shoguns in 1999. Between these roles he spent five years with Ospreys Rugby as Head of Strength and Conditioning and six years with the Welsh Rugby Union.

As Wales’ national team Conditioning Coach, Bennett was a member of the management who won the RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in 2005 and 2008 and, in his early years with the union, created and managed the national academy conditioning department as Head of Sport Science. As a professional player, Bennett played for Cardiff RFC, Neath RFC and Bristol Rugby and featured in Wales’ 1995 Rugby World Cup campaign in South Africa. He lectured part-time in Sport Science between 2003-2009 at the University of Wales and the University of Glamorgan, during which time he conducted post- graduate research in training adaptations for professional rugby players.

He has also consulted for the Sports Council of Wales and Swansea City; influencing training content for athletes and the continued professional development of their conditioning coaches. Bennett said: “It is an exciting time for England Rugby and this is a chance to work with a diverse set of talented players across age-grade, sevens and women. This will be a fantastic opportunity to work with younger athletes and those who are on their way to reaching the top, putting processes in place to help guide them along the way.” Melville said: “Mark is very forward thinking and has done a lot of research into how the game is being played and the direction it will take.

His analytical and progressive approach is particularly important for the pathway and in preparing players for the future. He will be a real asset to the department, creating better alignment within each area of sport science and medicine and improving processes for professional development.” Wasps Academy recently announced a partnership with Henley College Coventry, offering a bespoke educational programme, which provides learners with a platform to prepare them for a professional rugby career through the guidance of Henley College Coventry, an RFU Accredited College and Wasps Academy. Based at Henley College Coventry, the rugby programme offers the perfect environment for talented rugby players to combine the highest level of competition with a continued education.

Learners will have the opportunity to compete at the very highest level of college sport whilst completing their studies including weekly fixtures in the AoC Sports Premier League, and an International tournament: Portugal International U19s Youth Festival in Lisbon. It provides an educational and player pathway for talented rugby players to progress to Wasps Academy and even potentially the Wasps first team.

Wasps Academy Performance Manager, Ian Taplin, is looking forward to developing the partnership with Henley College Coventry and said: “Now that Wasps Academy are embedded in the local area we are delighted to establish links with local colleges. This partnership will mirror the provision we provide with The Henley College, Henley-on-Thames. These programmes provide terrific chances for young players, allying comprehensive rugby development with academic achievement is key for any young player reaching their potential on and off the pitch. Hopefully this represents another step towards getting local youngsters representing Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.” Head of Rugby at Henley College Coventry, Pete Glackin, added: HENLEY COLLEGE TEAMS UP WITH WASPS “Henley College Coventry are proud to establish an educational partnership with Wasps Academy.

The college has developed a strong foundation within its rugby union programme over the years and becoming an official college partner with Wasps Academy is an exciting opportunity to further develop rugby union players for the future within the City of Coventry. We are delighted to be working with Wasps Academy and look forward to the journey ahead.” Places on the programme will be offered based on prior experience, a learner’s rugby CV and performance in trials. Academically, applicants to Henley College Coventry will be required to meet certain criteria depending on the course you’re applying for.

For more information regarding the programme, please visit or email the Head of Rugby Pete Glackin, at BIG DEALS WHY NOT BOOK A VISIT FOR YOUR CLUB? Call 01283 711551 Email Visit GARETH MILLS


4 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 REAL RUGBY STORIES Featuring regularly on, as well as in Touchline, our Real Rugby Stories celebrate the achievements of those involved in the grassroots game. Whether it’s supportive mums or medics, chairmen taking clubs places, or children with inspirational stories, let us know about your remarkable people by emailing: Ten NatWest Real Rugby Heroes representing all those working behind the scenes in schools and college rugby, received awards in a pitch-side presentation at Twickenham.

The NatWest Real Rugby Heroes Awards, recognising the unsung heroes of the game, went to: Mel Alexander – Birchwood Primary School who started tag rugby at the school introducing over 350 boys and girls to the game, ensuring teachers passed their Rugby Tag Course, organising fixtures and festivals and encouraging pupils to join Woodbridge RFC.

Jason Button – Welland Park Academy, Head Coach at Leicester EPDG and Chair of the Leicestershire County Schools Union. Having run boys’ and girls’ rugby at Kibworth High School, he is now developing school rugby as Head of PE at Welland Primary School. Kelly Corder – Reigate School, started their girls rugby, coaching after school, arranging fixtures, taking them to Twickenham as guard of honour at England v France 2015, and encouraging them to play for Sutton & Cheam and their county side, Surrey. Dean Dryhurst – Oaklands Catholic School, who volunteered to coach Year 7 when his son joined and took time off work to drive a minibus to matches.

With another coach on board, came Saturday fixtures, a thriving girls’ team and links formed with Havant RFC.

Tom Elmes – The ACE Academy, who became Head of PE when the school was in special measures and the PE Department lacked direction. He NATWEST REAL RUGBY HEROES The kitchen table at the Downs’ house sees a lot of rugby action. When Rachel Downs and her friend Eleanor Dainty had to finish playing in the boys team at Under 12 their options were limited. “I told Rachel that if she got a team together I would help coaching” says Mum, Jude, who also plays prop for the Leigh Ladies 15 and has coaching support for the girls from her team mate Rhianne Boag.

Rachel convinced a group of school friends to turn up to training and they loved it.

They brought more girls along and numbers have steadily grown. “Some of the girls were bringing younger sisters to training and they were also desperate to play, so we felt that we could possibly get two teams up and running, Under 15s and Under 13s” says Rhianne, “but we needed a coach for them. Fortunately, David Bullough, a former Leigh player and father of U13 player Molly, stepped forward. “I have to admit I was a bit nervous to start with but now I absolutely love it. The girls are great and very keen.” There are now over 30 girls training each week. The 13s have joined a few RFU pitch up and play sessions and have games under their belts.

The 15s are into their second season and as well as making it to the Plate final have had five girls selected for Lancashire, two of them also selected to represent the North.

On the Sundays when there is a fixture clash with Jude and Rhianne playing for the Seniors, Rachel’s dad Mark picks up the coaching reins. As well as being the standby Under 15s coach, Mark is the Lancashire RFU Secretary. “Alongside running the Leigh RUFC girls’ section, the kitchen table is also used to administer rugby in Lancashire, it’s the County office!” says Mark. RUGBY ROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE developed their sport, joined the CBRE All Schools programme and now enters students in local and regional competitions.

Kevin Marshall – Wolfreton School, the driving force for boys’ and girls’ rugby in Cup competitions, festivals and local fixtures.

All his teachers are qualified coaches and referees and he organises festivals and developed links with Hullensians RFC expanding their teams. Alex Price – West Lakes Academy, set a high standard of rugby in Cumbria having been part of CBRE All Schools for four years. Teams have reached county competition finals and he has worked tirelessly to develop school sport and build strong links with the local club.

Michelle Stone – Heston Community School, recognised the importance and value rugby can add to students’ sporting lives and has been crucial in ensuring that rugby programmes including CBRE All Schools go towards enriching the student experience. Paul Tearle – Queen Elizabeth’s Academy Trust, worked on the development of girls’ rugby at the school and Crediton RFC, building the most successful girls section in the South West, with three teams, 50+ players and 8 coaches, while boys’ schools teams are thriving.

Matthew Whitley – Whitcliffe Mount School, saw how CBRE All Schools could turn a non-playing school into a rugby playing school in five years, with boys’ teams in every age group and girls’ rugby developing via Young Leaders, students now playing for Cleckheaton RFC.

MEMORABLE OCCASION When RFU President Peter Baines hosted a celebration lunch in the Twickenham Stadium Members Lounge to thank volunteers for their valued support for the game, 23 volunteers and their guests were there representing referees, coaches, player safety, education, groundsmen and those having made outstanding contributions to their clubs. They enjoyed a three-course meal with views overlooking the pitch and a stadium behind-the- scenes tour.

Nominated for his tireless efforts in recruiting and managing volunteers for Sale FC, Dave Hulme who was there with his son Matt, said: “Whatever we say cannot possibly come close to expressing our sincere thanks for such a fantastic day. It was a truly memorable occasion and one that made us all feel very proud and privileged to be invited. It was a great experience and we were so fortunate to have such fantastic hosts in Ian Ritchie and Chris Kelly on our table. They made us feel so welcome.” MARK DOWNS


5 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 CRANLEIGH WIN FOR JAKE AT NATIONAL SCHOOL SEVENS AYLESFORD BULLS WIN WOMEN’S CUP Aylesford Bulls won the Women’s Cup for the first time in their history with a 37-0 win against Wasps in the main event of Cup finals day at Royal Wootton Bassett RFC.

Sammy Voyle and Deirbhile Nic a Bháird both went over twice for Bulls, whose tally included a penalty try and scores from Fiona Fletcher and Leanne Riley. Aylesford opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when a penalty try was awarded following several infringements in the scrum and captain Amy Turner slotted the conversion. Their second try came when the ball was worked wide to Nic a Bháird who sidestepped two defenders to score, and on the stroke of half-time No.8 Voyle controlled the ball at the back of an advancing scrum to dot down.

Baird had her second try eight minutes after the break with another instinctive finish and Voyle also completed her double on the hour. England scrum half Riley sealed the win shortly The 78th Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s was a huge success, with thousands of players from U13 to U18 level competing and many more watching at home and at school on the live stream. The flagship U18 Cup was won by Cranleigh for the second year in a row as they became the first side since Millfield in 2009 and 2010 to achieve that feat. They did so in memory of their friend Jake Andrews, whose funeral was on the final day of the tournament, having lost his battle with cancer two weeks earlier.

A year after leaving school, he was still close to many of the team, who decided that playing for him was the best way to honour him, and they did so in a manner that left those watching inspired and impressed. With tremendous spirit, they twice scored with the last play of the game to win, before beating Brighton College in a superb final, 28-7.

The U18 Plate was won by Woodhouse Grove, beating Wellington College 19-14 in a thrilling final. The Yorkshire school also picked up the U14 Plate, beating Marlborough College 38-21 in the final. Elsewhere at U18 level, St John’s, Leatherhead were the Vase winners beating Cheltenham College 26-24 in a classic 7s battle in the final, while Epsom College were fine 31-0 victors over Stockport Grammar School in the Bowl final. The two girls’ tournaments at U18 level saw Hartpury College once again on top in the Girls AASE final, beating SGS Filton College 33-12, while in the Girls U18 tournament Amman Valley were victors for the third year running, winning a tight final 12-10 against Blundell’s, in their first year as a girls 7s team.

Wellington College were the Boys U16 Cup winners, scoring late on in the final against Millfield when 14-7 down, and then adding a try in the last play of the game for a 19-14 victory.

Local boys Wimbledon College were the U14 Cup winners, they met Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf in the final, the side that they had played and beaten in last year’s Junior final. This year they won 26-10. The Prep and Junior matches were played as waterfall tournaments, in line with the new age-grade rugby protocols. While that meant no trophy winners, there were plenty of outstanding performances from schools and individuals, and the sheer joy of their rugby was one of the real highlights of the tournament. Those who missed out on the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s can catch a glimpse of what they missed out on at the London 7s leg of the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series on Sunday 21st May, when Cranleigh and Brighton College take to the field at Twickenham Stadium in a replay of the U18 Cup final.

BEN YOUNG before the final whistle when the Bulls won a scrum and she raced over, sparking Aylesford celebrations.

Former England back and Bulls captain Turner said: “When it mattered we pulled together, the leaders stood up and the whole squad got behind that.” The Cup was one of six finals on the day with Bristol, West Park Leeds, Loughborough, Lewes and Windsor also winning their respective contests. Bristol beat Worcester Valkyries 32-20 in the Plate final thanks to doubles for Becki Belcher and Chantelle Miell. Brooke Bradley and Phoebe Murray also crossed for Bristol, while Jasmine Bixley, Helena Bunce, Rhiannon Donnahey and Ceri Large scored tries for the Valkyries.

In the Intermediate Cup, last year’s runners up West Park Leeds went one better to lift the trophy, defeating Gloucester Hartpury 32-19.

Vicki Pinks, Jessica Courtman, Claire Garner, Danielle Rose and Amy Johnson all scored tries for West Park. Gloucester Hartpury scored three tries through Lauren Graham, Laura Paganni and Charlotte Faux. In the Intermediate Plate Loughborough beat local rivals West Bridgford 29-5, with Emma Dootson and Ofure Ugiage scoring twice each and England U20 prop Leah Bartlett also crossing. Jess Panayiotou touched down for West Bridgford. Lewes lifted the Junior Cup with a battling 12-3 win against Reading Abbey thanks to tries from Rosie Neal and Nicola Minchell. Reading Abbey were 3-0 up for the majority of the match thanks to an Alice Denton penalty, but Lewes showed heart to come back in the latter stages.

Windsor retained the Junior Plate after a 17-0 win against Harrogate. Rachel Humphreys, Gillian Thomas and Jess O’Sullivan went over for the Berkshire club. SEVEN REFEREE SOCIETIES NOW RFU MEMBERS Seven referee societies have become members of the RFU, their status having been confirmed at the Governance Standing Committee meeting last month (March).

This makes them voting members, entitled to privileges that come with RFU membership, and is part of implementing the Match Officials Blueprint’s recommendations, the Rugby Referees Union having become a Constituent Body last year. The RFU has accepted the following as members: RAF Rugby Union Referee Society, Notts, Lincs & Derbys Referees Society, Hertfordshire Society of Rugby Union Football Referees, South Yorkshire Referees Society, West Yorkshire Referees Society, Central Yorkshire Referees Society and North Yorkshire & Cleveland Referees Society.

Said Match Official Development Manager, Michael Patz: “These seven referee societies now have the same privileges as rugby clubs, a further 15 are currently completing the application process, and of the remaining 15 a number are seeking to change their constitutions to meet the RFU rules before applying.

“In our 37 societies across the country we have a tremendous force of fantastic match officials who ensure that games take place, week in week out. It is a pleasure to congratulate the first seven on achieving RFU membership and I look forward to the rest joining them.”


6 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 HARTPURY COLLEGE WIN BUCS CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL Bristol finished the regular season top of the Women’s Premiership for the first time in their history, with the play-off final set to take place on 23rd April (kick-off 3pm) at Sixways Stadium, Worcester. At the time of Touchline going to print, Bristol will take on Saracens in the first play-off semi-final on 9th April at Cleve RFC while Lichfield played Aylesford Bulls in the other semi-final at Cooke Fields on the same day.

The losers of the semi-final matches will face each other in a third/fourth place play-off at Sixways on 23rd April (kick-off 1pm) before the final that decides who will be crowned 2016/17 Women’s Premiership champions.

Bristol headed the table with 60 points, one point ahead of Lichfield, with Aylesford Bulls recording their highest ever finish of third and Saracens completing the play-off line-up in fourth. WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFFS BEN YOUNG GUESS WHO’S PRESENTING THE SHIRTS? England Head Coach Eddie Jones presented England Students with match day shirts on the eve of their 36-36 draw with Combined Students of Ireland.

Jones also posed for photos with the players and addressed the team to prepare them for their clash at the University of Oxford. He said: “You have to be physically right, and you’ve got to be emotionally right. So make sure you use the next period of time to get yourself right for the game, so when you’re ready to kick off you’re physically and emotionally ready to go and beat the Irish. I wish you all the best. I think it’s just fantastic for you.” The England Students management kept the shirt presentation a secret until the day, and team manager Paul Baty said: “It was a real confirmation of the importance of student rugby and the England Students team in particular to have Eddie Jones present the shirts,” he said.

“The players were kept in the dark about who was coming and were trying to guess all week.” England Students had a late lead against the Combined Students of Ireland but were unable to hold on as the teams fought to a 36-36 draw. England started brightly, Mark Dixon brushing off an Irish defender for the game’s first try, Will Kaye converting for a 7-0 lead. The Irish responded with a penalty from right wing, Bryan Mollen, before Sunderland flanker, Simon Uzokwe, dragging Irish defenders with him, bulldozed his way across for a try, giving England a 12-3 lead.

Mollen then took the game by the scruff, scoring an easy try and then a penalty to cut England’s lead to one point. In the 31st minute it was Mollen again, running up the middle for a try. He then kicked another penalty to put Ireland up by seven points. Loughborough’s number 9 Sam Pointon then cooly slipped past Ireland’s defenders and sped under the posts, making it 19-19 at the break. It was the 59th minute before Ireland’s Nick Peters scored a converted try but with star player Mollen sin-binned, England needed just seconds to score, as Pointon notched his second try. Kaye made the conversion and it was 26 points apiece, until Kaye slotted a penalty to give England the lead.

Matthew Gilsenan responded with a converted penalty for Ireland, but then a few minutes later, England seemed to have achieved the fairytale ending. Oxford’s right wing Tom Stileman crashed across the line for a try and Kaye’s conversion made it 36-29 with just minutes remaining.

But Ireland found another try to once again level the match. England pushed hard for victory in the final moments, with Loughborough replacement Callum Watson making a terrific run, but Ireland’s defence held firm and the two sides shared the honours. Head coach Aaron James said: “We would have liked to win, but we did well to get the draw. We worked pretty hard. We let Ireland get away in the middle period, but we came back well. “We had confidence in the boys in the way they played, they had intent right through it. We started to get a few injuries, especially to the backs, which was the only concern.

But our fitness told.” At Twickenham Stadium Exeter got on the scoreboard first, linking nicely in the backs to set scrum half Aaron Bagwell free to sprint under the posts. Fly half Ted Landray slotted the extras for 7-0, giving him 180 points in the season.

An infringement at the ruck from Exeter 15 minutes in gave Hartpury fly half Sam Leeming the chance to narrow the gap, bringing the score Despite being down to 14 men, Hartpury immediately responded when centre Jamie Forrester carved open Exeter’s defence, offloading to star winger Jonas Mikalcius to score. Leeming once again took the points to bring the score level at 17-17. England star Harry Randall, who two weeks earlier achieved an U20 Six Nations Grand Slam, produced the moment of the match when he took a quick penalty and beat three men to score in the corner. Leeming missed the conversion, making the score 22-17 leading into a tense final quarter.

The match was effectively ended minutes later when Randall picked the ball from the ruck, sneaking over for a 27-17 victory. Northumbria University lost out to the University of Edinburgh 48-5 in the Women’s BUCS Championship final at Twickenham. Player of the match Megan Gaffney, and Rhona Lloyd, scored hat-tricks for Edinburgh while Joanna Brown’s effort with 30 seconds remaining brought Northumbria’s only points of the match. With Northumbria only 10-0 adrift at the break, the second half was all Edinburgh’s until the last minute, when Brown charged straight through the defence and raced away for a consolation try, Northumbria women losing in the final for the second consecutive year.

NORTHUMBRIA WOMEN DENIED BY EDINBURGH to 7-3, before Exeter scored from a driving maul, Landray once again converting to bring the score to 14-13. Hartpury’s captain and talisman Seb Negri proved the difference with the final play before half-time. The back row broke through two tackles to bring Hartpury a few metres away from the line with scrum half Harry Randall then feeding full back Maliq Holden to score in the corner. Leeming nailed a tricky conversion to bring the score to 14-10 at the break. Exeter dominated the early part of the second half, creating space for flanker James McRae to break through.

Try scorer Maliq Holden was sent to the sin bin for hands in the ruck.


7 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 The rain relented long enough for the 2017 Quilter Cheviot North of England Schools Invitation Sevens to kick off at the Birkenhead Park FC ground, on Sunday 12th March. The Bowring Trophy was retained by Kirkham Grammar School, who beat Woodhouse Grove in a Roses battle, having seen off the challenges of Pocklington in the semis and Queen Ethelbergha’s in the quarter-finals. They played some scintillating rugby and were heading for Rosslyn Park in optimistic mood. The Boodle & Dunthorne Salver, competed for by the group runners-up, was lifted by Malvern College on only their second outing at this event.

They defeated King’s Worcester in a closely- contested match, there being only one score between them. In their previous games they had despatched both Bradford Grammar School and Ampleforth, while King’s overcame Durham in the semis and King’s Macclesfield in the quarter finals. The Plate had a particularly strong entry this year, with Stockport Grammar School, who were winners of the Cheshire U18 Tournament earlier in the week, and Giggleswick making up the eight.

In the Trophy event, Barnard Castle just crept past Sedbergh before losing to Woodhouse Grove in the semis, with Austin Friars from Carlisle and RGS Newcastle the other losing quarter-finalists. The Player of the Tournament Trophy, in memory of one of the tournament’s greatest supporters, Gerald L. Finch, was awarded to Connor Doherty of Kirkham GS. Young referees, led by Matthew Turvey and Chris Bennett from the RFU North Panel, were drawn from the North West Federation and Liverpool and Manchester Societies and they set and maintained a very high standard, the Northern element of Chris White’s Referees Academy organising their participation.

Wooden Spoon chose this event to conduct a draw for kit and equipment, worth several hundred pounds, presented by Standard Life, with Ampleforth the first out of the hat. Among guest sides this year was Sacre Coeur from Reims, on their first overseas outing, all voting it a great success. For more information please click here NORTH OF ENGLAND SCHOOLS SEVENS Former England, Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints player, Tom May, recently helped open a new fitness activity area at Worple School near Twickenham Stadium. He was joined by Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury to unveil the equipment funded by the World Cup Legacy Fund, which aimed to give the local area a lasting legacy from the World Cup matches at the Home of England Rugby.

Rob Kemp, Worple School Chair of Governors, said: “We’ve already seen the impact from the RFU tag rugby schemes at the school as we recently won the Gold Gamesmark award for competitive school sports – the smallest school to achieve such an award in the borough. Now we’re looking to use the new activity trim trail equipment – funded by the RFU 2015 World Cup Legacy and the Big Lottery Fund – to add value to the school’s PE programme, with drills for the children to develop strength, co-ordination, endurance, stamina, teamwork and problem solving, as well team and individual challenges.” MAY GOES BACK TO SCHOOL IT’S CHILDSPLAY FOR PIRATES Penryn primary schools enjoyed a rugby festival last month (March), Cornish Pirates having run six sessions over the preceding weeks, focusing on free flowing rugby in a safe and fun environment.

Pupils from Mawnan, Kennell Vale, Mylor and Perran-ar-Worthal schools travelled to Penwith College’s state-of-the-art 3G pitch for really fun day. Sam Teasdale, Community Engagement Manager, said: “It was great to see all of the children playing heads up rugby with some real attacking flair. The enjoyable environment on and off the pitch was testament to the teachers embracing and implementing the Children First approach.” Alex Dancer, one of a number of Cornish Pirates players helping on the day, added: “This was a very entertaining day of rugby and the children should be really proud of what they have achieved over the last six weeks.” Fellow squad members Matt Bolwell and Matt Evans gave advice to the enthusiastic youngsters, and to conclude the afternoon coaches Alan Paver and Gavin Cattle complimented the youngsters on the level of play, and said how they may have witnessed future Pirates in the making!

Members of the Cornish Pirates rugby team are also teaming up with staff from Royal Cornwall Hospital (RCHT) to run a toy appeal for the clinical Imaging department. When children have scans they can be very nervous, but the team have one technique that almost always works – to give away a toy! With these toys running out the Cornish Pirates are asking their supporters to help and donate – to Captain’s Benbow’s Toy Appeal. Club captain Chris Morgan, who has a young family, said: “The generosity of our supporters is always appreciated and a good number will, I am sure, wish to react and help with this in their usual positive way.

It’s a simple request, but one that really will be of help to the young children.” As well as running Captain Benbow’s toy appeal, a match day collection was taking place when the Cornish Pirates play Doncaster Knights at home with RCHT volunteers shaking their buckets to help buy additional new toys.

Photo credit: Brian Tempest


8 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 TWICKENHAM HOSTS NATWEST CUP AND VASE FINALS The Cup and Vase finals in the NatWest Schools Cup were once again hosted at the Home of England Rugby with thousands of fans there to watch the pinnacle event in school rugby. The major story at the beginning of the day was Warwick School’s attempt to achieve the Cup double in both the U15 and U18 age groups. However, Wellington School were intent on spoiling their party. First up was the U15 Vase which saw Thomas Hardye cruise to a comfortable win over Dr Challoner’s.

The Dorchester school scored 10 tries in their 62-7 victory with fly-half Orlando Bailey proving the star player.

Warwick’s double hopes were ended by Wellington. With Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood among their coaching staff and chasing a record unbeaten domestic season, Wellington College were in no mood to let Warwick claim the U15 Cup title. A brace from Wellington captain Fin Baxter, was accompanied by a try from replacement wing George Morison and 10 points from the boot of full back Max Thomas to give the side a 25-12 victory. In the U18s, the Vase final will be remembered for one thing in particular. The Dickinson brothers. Triplets Ben, George and Jack were all outstanding as their side, Trent College, put in a dominant performance to beat Royal Latin 43-7.

The showpiece event of the day was the U18 Cup final which saw Warwick school take on Bishop Wordsworth’s in what was an exceptional display of rugby. Warwick scored four tries en-route to a 27-5 triumph to seal the title. Warwick’s win left their Salisbury-based opponents runners-up again, following the 1991 team who lost the very first under-18 final, 4-3, to King Edward VI of Stratford. For Warwick, it was a second under 18 title, following success in 2007. An evening with a difference was enjoyed by 250 at Edgar Hall, Somerton as Strictly Come Dancing arrived in town! This was the first time Somerton RFC had organised such an event and it was an overwhelming success.

The event was run in conjunction with GingerFred Dance Studio, Langport, with support from Louise Barrett, a professional dance and theatre director.

Six club members volunteered to take part in the competition and all were paired with a dance partner from GingerFred. None of the players had previous dance experience and they put in many long hours beforehand in the dance studio, with lots of help and encouragement from their dancing partners and Louise. The competitors were: Simon Rumbles and his partner Nicola; Dan Dury and his partner Katey; Richard Worsdale and his partner Lucy; Scott Godley and his partner Kim; Tom Wills and his partner Katie, and Justin Marks and his partner Juliet.

The judging panel comprised: Stephen Benn, a local businessman and supporter of the club, two well-known local people within the Langport and Somerton areas: Cara Naden and Mo Fletcher and Robin Windsor, a British professional latin and ballroom dancer, best known for his appearances in, the BBC television series ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

The dancers performed a five-minute routine with a range of dance genres and the judges got into their stride with well delivered thoughts, wit and humour and the all- important scores.

Justin and Juliet topped the Leader Board (with a 10 being awarded by Robin) but it was down to the audience to decide who won the competition. Each pair returned for a repeat performance and there were some very tense moments waiting for the winning couple to be announced. Step forward Club Captain, Tom Wills and his partner Katie, who received their medals to rapturous applause. STRICTLY SOMERTON RFC INAUGURAL NATWEST BOWL AND PLATE AT WORCESTER Worcester’s Sixways Stadium played host to the inaugural Bowl and Plate finals in the NatWest Schools Cup last month (March).

This season the Schools Cup competition was restructured so that teams knocked out in the first round of the Cup were able to compete for the Plate and those knocked out of the Vase to compete for the Bowl.

With schools able to choose whether to enter the Cup or Vase in the first place, the playing field has been levelled which has meant more exciting and closer matches. The day began with Beths Grammar School beating Pocklington in the U15 Bowl in a tense opening game. Beths’ No.8 Daniel Ademola proved to be the difference, scoring four tries, and he was deservedly named Man of the Match. The following match between Sir Thomas Rich’s and St. Pauls in the U15 Plate was a lower scoring affair but equally as tense. Sir Thomas Rich’s emerged the narrowest of winners, winning 6-3 thanks to two first-half penalty goals from hooker Luke Carr.

It was the Gloucester academy’s first national title after two previous defeats in U15 national finals.

In the senior games Old Swinford were able to hold off a fightback from St Olave’s to win 24-13 in the U18 Bowl final. The last time Old Swinford Hospital were in a national final they came up against Dulwich College who dominated the U18 Cup for three years. This time the Stourbridge school were the stronger team, running out winners by four tries to two. Reigate Grammar School were the fourth and last champions at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium in the U18 Plate but they had to survive a few anxious moments in the closing stages before gaining a first title. They beat Solihull 20-16 in one of the day’s closest games, with Solihull mounting a comeback through prop Henry Nicholls five minutes from time.



9 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 The RFU, in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), are encouraging rugby clubs and schools to share their rugby history and explore the hundreds of UK based CWGC sites. #rugbyremembers sees the RFU and CWGC launch a campaign and competition to inspire young people, rugby club juniors and schools to visit one of the hundreds of CWGC sites in the UK and then research the hundreds of rugby club members, or school players and rugby coaches, who left sports pitches to fight in World War I, never to return.

There are Twickenham tickets on offer and to enter the competition young people should visit either a CWGC UK site or a memorial board in their school or club and tweet a photo using #rugbyremembers and @CWGC for the chance to win tickets to the Old Mutual Wealth Cup England v Barbarians match on 28 May. Winners will also be involved in a commemoration event at the game.

In community rugby clubs and schools across England there are memorial boards dedicated to those who gave their lives during the First World War, many of them rugby players. There are also hundreds of CWGC sites no more than three miles from everyone’s front door. RFU World War I Commemoration ambassador, Lewis Moody, recently visited the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, with a group of rugby players from the local CBRE All Schools Christ’s College, Guildford. The RFU are proud to partner with the CWGC during their centenary year and the partnership is an opportunity to highlight the contribution rugby made in the two world wars.

Most of the international players from around the world who died, including 27 England internationals, are commemorated by the CWGC.

The RFU and CWGC are keen to collect new information on rugby players who died in the Great War. All the information collected will go towards to the new World Rugby Museum set to open at Twickenham later this year and the Book of Remembrance to be placed at the new World Rugby Memorial to be opened in France in September. Lewis Moody is asking everyone to please encourage young people to take part in remembering all those who died. Rugby Remembers will run throughout 2017 but the competition closes on 17 May. To find details of the competition click here YOUNG RUGBY PLAYERS PART OF RFU WORLD WAR I COMMEMORATION AS RUGBY REMEMBERS The County Championship divisions have been renamed after some of England’s most distinguished rugby players.

The divisions will now be known as the Bill Beaumont Senior Men’s County Championship, the Jason Leonard U20 County Championship and the Gill Burns Women’s County Championship. The Bill Beaumont Senior Men’s County Championship is made up of the Bill Beaumont Division 1, Bill Beaumont Division 2 and Bill Beaumont Division 3 competitions (formerly the Bill Beaumont Cup, Division 2 Plate and Shield).

The Jason Leonard U20 County Championship will include the Jason Leonard Division 1 and Jason Leonard Division 2 competitions (formerly the National U20 Cup and National U20 Shield). Following the success of the inaugural Women’s County Championship and Regional Plate, the women’s division will now be named the Gill Burns Women’s County Championship, encompassing the Gill Burns Division 1 and Gill Burns Division 2 competitions. “The renaming of the County Championship divisions makes the competition structure a lot clearer and more consistent while honouring three of England’s most celebrated rugby players,” said Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director.

Surrey were crowned winners of the first-ever Women’s County Championships last May, defeating Lancashire 32-17 at Twickenham Stoop. “It’s an honour to have the Women’s County Championship named after me,” said Gill Burns MBE. “Last year’s inaugural competition, which involved 16 women’s teams, showed the appetite for a competitive competition for women across the country and I hope that the tournament becomes a pillar of county rugby, helping develop the women’s game.” Jason Leonard added: “I’m delighted to put my name to this great competition which showcases the very best of U20 grassroots rugby across the country.” COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS RENAMED GEMMA COBB Click here to watch a video, made by the RFU in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), introduced by Lewis Moody


10 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 If you want to see young referees, from the age of 14, running rugby matches in first-class fashion, look no further than Northumberland. The Northumberland Referees Society are celebrating a third season of identifying and developing junior referees in a programme developed from an idea of three club coaches at Novos, Ponteland & Percy Park who were looking to to provide extra rugby experience for their players, to support their involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and provide additional extra curricular experience to support college applications.

Now with the support of the community foundation at Newcastle Falcons, the RFU local CRC team led by Dave Reed and Northumberland Rugby and Referees Society more than 30 young people have enjoyed the programme, half of them already qualified to referee the 15-a-side game and the rest regularly officiating in schools and club festivals at U12 and below.

They can all attend society training meetings to foster links with senior referees, have mentors and their own quarterly sessions where they undertake CPD as a group led by Simon O’Neill and based on the RFU referee training modules as well as discussing and sharing their experiences out in the middle. This season has been the busiest yet for the group who, in addition to regularly refereeing club junior games, have also provided referees and assistant referees for a range of school and county cup fixtures. They have taken charge of finals, county representative fixtures and a range of festivals run by Newcastle Falcons including their flagship Landrover Cup event which had over 1000 players involved.

And they are developing nicely, three of the group now refereeing senior rugby games within the county on a regular AIRBASE FLIES IN TO SAVE THE DAY Hadleigh RFC recently hosted a fantastic tag tournament, building on the success of previous year’s events and welcoming up to 400 players in the U7 and U8 age groups from clubs across the Eastern Counties. They believe that theirs is the largest tag tournament of its kind in the UK, but this fourth event took place thanks to support from Wattisham Airbase just a few miles up the road. They stepped in at short notice, Royal Engineers erecting tents for the youngsters when the weather forecast threatened the event.

Many former military personnel are parents and coaches at the club and several work on the base as civilian contractors. This season the club’s U11s had a team-building day with the crews of the Apache attack helicopters. There are three support battalions at the airbase, with Lt Col. Stuart Nasse commanding officer for one of them, the 7th, and not only captain of the Wattisham Warriors team on the airbase but also a very proud Dad to Otto who was playing for the Hadleigh Baa-Baas in the U8s competition.

Stuart sees rugby, and a close association with the Hadleigh club, as a great way for new families to the base to make friends at club and school, get involved with the local community and to provide the social glue which everyone needs when relocating to a new base. The club were certainly relieved when some Royal Engineers came to the rescue. One of Hadleigh’s coaches, Dale Spooner who trains the U8s, is ex-Army and works as a civilian at the base and he liaised with Stuart to bring 24 Royal Engineers with tents, trucks, tables and chairs from six in the morning. They stayed most of the day to help with clearing down and were kept full of bacon rolls and cakes throughout the day.

Matt Short, Hadleigh’s Community Rugby Coach, looks forward to working ever more closely with the base in the future. Tournament teams were presented with awards based on the RFU’s core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship as well as separate awards based on touchline etiquette and support. They needed to look no further for their inspiration than the local airbase who saved the day. Hampshire Rugby Union Referees Society (HRURS) started work on the foundations built by the Gosport & Fareham RFC Referee Academy to establish hubs throughout the county and develop a Hampshire Academy, basis and one making his refereeing debut in a Level 9 league fixture.

The intention is to keep adding more junior referees to the group by providing Level 1 and Level 2 training courses in conjunction with the local schools and clubs and via the local RFU team, these being aimed specifically at the 14-18 age group. The courses are followed by a number of specific CPD events over a season where the group meet with their mentors to look at key areas of game management.

Said Paul Minto, who coordinates the junior pathway in Northumberland, “The signs are very positive, with more clubs and schools registering interest as they see the juniors in impressive action at their events. The standard of these young officials already in the programme is impressive and bodes well for the future.” Members of the group were presented with their Young Whistler match shirts at half time in the Falcons game v Northampton following the completion of their 3rd Landrover Cup festival as referees. The event is the flagship event of their season and gives something back to the Falcons who are regular hosts of the youth programme’s Level 2 training courses.

Shirts were presentated by Hamish Smales a Northumberland Society referee recently promoted to the National Panel and a perfect inspiration and role model for what can be achieved. NORTHUMBERLAND REFS LOOK YOUNGER EVERY DAY Hampshire referee colours which coincided with the RFU’s Young Match Officials Scheme.

The County Youth Academy, sponsored by Donnelly & Elliott Solicitors, has been operating for some eight months, with Young Referee Development Officer, Chris Blockley-Webb running training sessions at clubs around the county. There are currently 29 young referees in Hampshire who are also part of the YMO scheme, are RFU Young Rugby Ambassadors and registered with V-Inspired, with another 15-20 referees ready for the next course. Last month (March), the Society presented its first Youth Academy colours to 12 young referees who have shown progression, development and a level of competence which makes them able to officiate any age grade rugby match, up to and including U16s, to a safe and competent standard.

The Referee Society now works closely with their CB Youth Section, clubs, and even private tournament operators to provide officials from county trials, tournaments and festivals right through to County age grade rugby Cup and League finals. The World Rugby Museum and Twickenham Stadium Tours have been operating since 1996 and now more volunteers are needed to join their elite team of tour guides. The current tour guides come from all walks of life and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. Phil describes guiding as “a great opportunity to share the wonderful culture of rugby… and the moving history of the stadium and the game”.

He enjoys meeting visitors from around the world and being part of a team of rugby enthusiasts. Victoria loves working at the stadium because “you never know who is going to turn up on your tours.” While taking a group of young players from New Zealand on a stadium tour recently she met a lad whose parents had included Leicester, Wales and Twickenham in his full name. “It’s fair to say his father was a proper rugby fan. And to think that this boy could play for the All Blacks one day!” Chris’s favourite tour guiding memory is of taking a French school around the stadium. “A young boy was carrying a small leather case with him and kept telling me it was a surprise.

Beside the pitch at the end of the tour, he took a bugle out of the case and played the Marseillaise, the school joining in with the words. A very special moment!” For more information on becoming a volunteer Twickenham Stadium tour guide, please visit the World Rugby Museum website WANT TO BE PART OF TWICKENHAM HISTORY?

11 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 England Rugby announced the 24/Sevens 2017 competition is open for all community clubs and new and existing sevens teams to enter. The exciting community sevens series, launched in 2016, aims to continue to grow sevens rugby and increase participation among men and women. By aligning existing domestic sevens tournaments, the competition has created consistent playing opportunities for sevens players at grassroots level with over 6,000 players participating in 2016. Sevens rugby is a key part of England Rugby’s work with Sport England, broadening high quality playing opportunities for all players.

In 2017 the 24/Sevens competition will be bigger and better, with more local qualifiers being held in 38 locations across England. 24/Sevens 2017 will also see the addition of a new tiered competition structure with social and invitational elite tiers added alongside the existing open competition. Formats •  Local qualifier winners in the open tier, where men’s and women’s sevens teams and community clubs can enter, will progress to one of four regional play offs in the north, midlands, south-east and south-west across two weekends in July. The competition will culminate in a showpiece national final event hosted by England Rugby at The Recreation Ground in Bath on 29th July.

•  The new social tier will see tournaments held at all 38 local qualifier venues across England. Open for all levels of ability, the social tier is a great entry point into the game for those who are new to contact formats of the game and those who are returning to rugby. •  The invitational elite tier will showcase top level men’s sevens teams and players, with the Super Sevens Series featuring in partnership with the 24/Sevens competition structure for the first time, including the 24/Sevens national final. RFU Development Director, Steve Grainger said: “Over 6000 players took part in the inaugural 24/Sevens competition in 2016.

This year we are broadening the competition’s reach and capacity to cater for an even wider range of playing levels with the new tiered competition structure. Sevens is an exciting format of rugby that can be played not only by sevens specific players but also by anyone who does or has played 15-a-side rugby, and players who are new to contact rugby. We are looking forward to seeing player talent on display as teams compete for the highest national accolade at community level in rugby sevens in England.” ENGLAND RUGBY 24/SEVENS ENGLAND U19 BEATEN IN FRIENDLY AGAINST FRANCE England Under 19 went down 35-22 in a friendly fixture against France U19 at Stade Jules Ladoumègue, Massy.

The home side impressed early in the game and led 18-3 at half- time with Northampton Saints fly half James Grayson kicking a penalty for England just before the break.

England improved in an open second half and it was No.8 Sam Moore who powered over the line to score the first try of the game for the visitors. England Sevens Head Coach, Simon Amor added; “Following the success of the Olympics there has never been a more exciting time for rugby sevens. There are undoubtedly more players playing the sport around the world and the growth of 24/Sevens is fantastic for sevens in our country. The linkup with the Super Sevens Series is also a positive step forward creating a clear elite level for players to compete in and providing a great opportunity to develop young sevens talent.” England Sevens assistant coach (women), James Bailey said: “The 24/Sevens competition is important for the development of the women’s sevens pathway as it’s giving players at community level more quality and consistent playing opportunities.

This is NEWCASTLE TO HOST 2019 EUROPEAN RUGBY FINALS Newcastle will host the European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Continental Shield competition finals in May 2019. Newcastle United’s St James’ Park will stage both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, while the home of Aviva Premiership side Newcastle Falcons – Kingston Park – will host the European Rugby Continental Shield final on 10th/11th May 2019.

The city’s bid, backed by the RFU, is a joint partnership between Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Rugby Limited. “This is great news for rugby in Newcastle and the wider north east region,” said Newcastle Rugby Ltd managing director, Mick Hogan. “The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup are the best clubs and region-based competitions in world rugby, and it is very exciting for the city that we have managed to secure the 2019 finals. “To be successful in our bid to host these prestigious events is testament to the already strong partnership between the Falcons, Newcastle United FC, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and the City Council.

I must place on record the tremendous work already done by these partners, the support of Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the local Constituent Bodies in helping to bring this world class event to Newcastle.” St James’ Park has a capacity in excess of 52,000 and successfully staged a trio of major international matches during Rugby World Cup 2015, with capacity crowds drawn to the city for games involving New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Samoa.

making sevens a real option for aspiring players. The Olympics last year was a great showcase for the sport and inspired so many to get involved. 24/Sevens is a great entry point to the game.” Local qualifier events take place throughout April, May and June, with regional play offs in the north, midlands, south-east and south-west in July. The 24/Sevens national final, on the 29th July, will be a vibrant combination of electric rugby, entertainment and live music ensuring a unique experience on and off the pitch for players and spectators.

For more information on how you can be part of the 24/Sevens series, please click here SUZI MURRAY

The British & Irish Lions have launched a grassroots programme in partnership with the four home unions called Pick of the Pride, developed with the aim of using the Lions brand to inspire a future generation of rugby players and help retain existing youth players. Four ambassadors aged 18 to 21 will be selected from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales based on their involvement and contribution to grassroots rugby, vision for the future of the game and understanding of the Lions core values: Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Friendship.

The ambassadors will travel to New Zealand to immerse themselves in the culture of New Zealand rugby, to understand the challenges facing youth rugby globally and establish a network with their counterparts.

They will then bring their learnings back to share with their own clubs and other clubs in their region. British & Irish Lions and England legend Jason Leonard said: “Being a Lion was a huge honour and unforgettable experience in my playing career. Getting the chance to play alongside some of the best players I had lined up against, made me challenge myself to step up as a player and raise my level. That is the amazing thing about our sport – the bonds you form with your teammates: you play for each 0ther, your family, your country – it creates an accountability.

“I want to challenge every young player in England to be a part of this Lions team – to be accountable to each other, to play out of their skin – on and off the pitch, to raise their level and be the best they can be in everything they do. A community of Lions is stronger than one.” “This is a great opportunity for youngsters across the country to be rewarded for their efforts and commitment to the game,” added RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger, “they can become a part of the amazing Lions experience in New Zealand. Young players from the grassroots game are rugby’s future and this is a chance to inspire them to continue to play throughout their lives and remain part of the global rugby family.” The closing date for applications is 16th April.

For more details and to enter go to WIN A TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND WITH LIONS ‘PICK OF THE PRIDE’ TOUCHLINE Editorial input with pictures to: Touchline Editor, Patricia Mowbray Email: Direct Line: 0208 831 6514 Correspondence to: Patricia Mowbray, Touchline Editor, Rugby Football Union, Rugby House, Twickenham Stadium, 200 Whitton Road, Twickenham TW2 7BA. Mailing and Distribution: Enquiries or updates Email: Tel: 0208 831 6762 Touchline is published by PPL Group, on behalf of the Rugby Football Union, the national governing body of the game in England.

Also available on the RFU website: Photography courtesy of Getty and Touchline contributors. Thanks to all individuals, clubs, schools and CBs for contributions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the RFU. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the RFU or PPL Group. While every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of editorial content, no responsibility can be taken for errors and/or omissions. All trademarks are acknowledged as the property of their respective owners. The RFU Rose and the words ‘England Rugby’ are official registered trade marks of the Rugby Football Union and are subject to extensive trade mark registration worldwide.

12 TOUCHLINE – APRIL 2017 APPEAL FOR SHAWNTON Old Emanuel RFC are appealing for donations after their popular player Shawnton De Four died while playing for their 2nd XV on 5th March. Shawnton, a real family man, who epitomised all that’s best in rugby union, leaves a widow and 15-month-old twins. The club is raising funds for Shawnton’s family via a series of one-off and annual events, including a 24 hour row to Trinidad (where his family originated) and a 24-hour game of touch. Said Penny McCarthy, Chair of Old Emanuel RFC: “It broke my heart when Shawnton’s wife, Susie, was told that he could not be revived and she said the children will never know their daddy.

What we are doing won’t bring him back but it will show them how much he was loved by the rugby community.

“We are all grateful for everyone’s generosity and warmest wishes and for Jason Leonard’s kind offer for us to use his charity to collect the donations so that they can attract gift aid.” Shawnton’s funeral was at St Winefride’s Catholic Church, Wimbledon, followed by a celebration of his life at the club with over 400 there from Old Emanuel and other rugby clubs. The following day Old Emanuel won the Surrey One league, everyone raising a glass to Shawnton. To make a donation, please click here THE RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING WHO GENEROUSLY SUPPORT THE GAME GEMMA COBB Hundreds of eight and nine year old boys and girls from more than 20 clubs across Surrey descended on Watchetts Recreation Ground, home to Camberley Rugby Football Club, for the Surrey end of season Under 9 A, B and Development Festivals.

Watching from the sidelines alongside hundreds of friends and family was England Head Coach Eddie Jones, invited along to the event by Blythe O’Mahoney, who plays for both the mixed and girls under 11 squad. “It was great to see so many youngsters enjoying themselves on the pitch,” said Eddie Jones. “Their enthusiasm created a real festival atmosphere and it was great to see so many spectators cheering them on. The stands were full to the rafters; it felt like the whole community had made it down to the club!” Following the matches, England Women players Alex and Fran Matthews made the presentations where all were handed medals, a ‘Player of the Festival’ trophy was presented by Surrey Heath Mayor, Cllr J Winterton.

He said “I was very pleased to attend the rugby festival on such a lovely sunny day. The boys and girls who took part were superb. It was a pleasure to award medals to the players who had done so well and see so many smiles from players and parents.” As a final treat, Eddie, Alex and Fran lined up with players from Camberley representing rugby through the generations, with players of all ages from Under Six up to England internationals. EDDIE SURPRISES KIDS AT SURREY FESTIVAL