St Joseph’s College has entered a partnership with Ealing Trailfinders RC that it believes will allow students a shot at the very highest reaches of rugby whilst offering the security of an entrée into another profession should a playing career fail to materialise or be cut short.
With an exceptional track record of helping its ablest players into professional rugby, the Ipswich-based independent school has an excellent understanding of the game, including how precarious the path of a pro player can be. The rewards may be enormous but the road to them remains strewn with pitfalls, not least injury or failing to make the grade physically or psychologically.
St Joseph’s, which lists English Premiership and England World Cup player Lewis Ludlam among its recent alumni, has agreed a programme with Ealing Trailfinders RC through which young players signing on to the club’s academy simultaneously take on a degree course at Brunel University London.
Blazing the way are three students who left the school’s Sixth Form this summer – Jarno Longaretti (18), who captained the squad for the St Joseph’s College National Schools Rugby Festival, Sean Bundy (19) and Louis Martin (18). Jarno and Sean will be studying for degrees in Sport Science at Brunel, while Louis will read Psychology.
Mr O’Riordan, St Joseph’s Director of Business Development and Sport, said, ‘We are enormously proud of the sporting talent exhibited by our students and celebrate their successes across a range of disciplines at regional, national and international level. Whilst we tirelessly support our elite athletes’ dreams to reach their potential, the sad fact is that no matter how hard they work, how dedicated and fit they are, there is always the possibility that a career as a professional sportsman or sportswoman could be cut short.
‘The College helps its students understand that playing careers may be short by their very nature and ensures a St Joseph’s education turns out well rounded young men and women, with outstanding A-level and BTEC qualifications alongside sporting trophies and accolades. Our partnership with Ealing means students can build on those qualifications, studying for a university degree in a dual career programme. Either way they win!’
The partnership will see The Trailfinders Rugby Academy become the principal sponsors of St Joseph’s prestigious 15 aside National Schools Rugby Festival and the newly launched St Joseph’s College National Schools 7s Rugby Festival. St Joseph’s College will become a key member of Ealing’s Elite Performance Pathway, providing scholarships and financial support for aspiring rugby players from within the Trailfinders talent development.
Louis, Sean and Jarno are relishing their time in West London. Said Bundy, ‘I have loved being a part of the programme, back being a part of a professional environment. My time at St Jo’s helped me to get here. from all the support on and off the pitch as well as the constant high standard of rugby that helped me get noticed.’
Longaretti added: ‘At St Jo’s the coaches treated us like adults, which really helped with the respect aspect of rugby. This then taught me how to maintain respect between players and coaches, which has helped me a lot and contributed massively to my enjoyment.’
Martin said: ‘My time at Brunel and Ealing Trailfinders so far has been an amazing experience. We are so lucky to be in a professional rugby programme and environment in these times and I am very grateful for this. My time at St Joseph’s has only helped me get to where I am today.’
Ealing Trailfinders will work with St Joseph’s coaching staff to facilitate the best possible environment for student athletes at the school in strength & conditioning, analysis and technical rugby development. The St Joseph’s performance squad will also attend training days and play fixtures at Trailfinders Sports Club, as well as the performance facility at Brunel.
Head of Rugby at Brunel and the Trailfinders Rugby Academy, Gareth Rise, is excited to see this partnership develop, ‘This is another fantastic step for the Trailfinders Rugby Academy on our quest to become the most comprehensive academy in the country. St Joseph’s College is renowned for its rugby ability. We have already seen three players join the academy through this agreement. By offering rugby support to the school we firmly believe that this partnership will develop dramatically and create many stars of the future for the first team.’