Celebrating its proud 125 year history this year, Egremont is one of the oldest Rugby Union Football Clubs in the country, but it keeps its eyes firmly set on the future, not the past. Its Director of Rugby, Keith Branthwaite, is delighted to see the efforts his club has put into the training of young players coming to fruition, with seven players aged under 19 now playing for the 1st XV and acquitting themselves very well. They include his own son, Andrew, who plays scrum half and captained the team against Cockermouth, Michael Hawley, who plays fly half, Mark Caulfield, full back, and Stephen Hewetson, Mark Thornton and Chris Temple who make up the back row.
Besides playing very competitively against tough adult competition, Michael Hawley has also represented the North of England and Stephen Hewetson has played for the England under 16 team. Ten of the club’s young players have played for Cumbria Under 18s, four for the Under 15s, and four for the Under 14s. Their under 18 team are both County and Northern champions and their under 15 team are County champions.
The success of the youth teams is a credit to the coaches and organisers, Lesley Sewell, Susan Peet, Colin Wharton and Simon Garrod. They teach the youngsters ball handling skills and safety, particularly critical in the scrum. The club is exceptionally well served by its ladies. Besides Lesley and Susan, Carol Leake also serves on its committee. However, it has not been able to form a girls’ team, and would first need to gain funding for new changing rooms and a second pitch, both of which could be achieved if it managed to gain a Lottery Grant.
The fact that seven of their best players have been promoted to the first XV is bound to put more pressure on them and their team, but there is no sign of fatigue. The 1st XV consolidated its second place in the league with an emphatic victory over Cockermouth on Saturday 29th November, and our photo, taken by David Southward, shows them dominating the line out and winning good possession for their eager backs.
The glorious victory of England in World Cup may have taken Egremont’s mind off its job in its match against Whitehaven on 22nd November, because it was only in the last fifteen minutes that they let their class tell, but it will be interesting to see what long term effect the increased interest aroused by such a famous performance will have on Cumbrian and Egremont rugby.
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