Every cloud has a silver lining.
Year 8, common entrance, teenage life and of course the pinnacle of senior prep school rugby. Whilst all of these events occur during this year, there is another factor that is the point of this piece.
That is that year 8, or in rugby terms the under 13s, marks the start of the RFU academy system where all 14 RFU funded academies start recruiting the stars of tomorrow. Whilst for the players selected this brings joy and a feeling of pride amongst them and their family, for those unselected or unsuccessful at trials it can provide a negative effect on their lives and added stress to the already busy lives of common entrance and entrance exam studying 12 to 13-year olds.
I say this from personal experience, whilst at 13 not being in an academy system isn’t the best feeling in the world, you should always remember that there are always positive factors to that negative, although you’re not yet in an academy system there is still time for you and any other aspiring rugby players to achieve your goal. Because at 13, no one is the finished article and there is always still time to grow and develop as a player. One of the best examples of this is Lions & England lock, George Kruis who was only involved in the professional rugby environment at the age of 18 when he signed with Saracens. Prior to this, he had not been involved in any age grade rugby whatsoever.
Another positive to take from a situation like this is that there are plenty of opportunities available to youngsters throughout their school years and beyond. In my case this was the county DPP trials, where I was successful and although the commute and time commitment is a sacrifice, the skills and advice given to me by the coaches has helped my game grow two-fold. As well as the opportunity to play and develop your rugby, the platforms such as the Surrey DPP and the various other initiatives, the Lambs for example, allows players to meet new mates and create friendships with those from other clubs, which then leads to a better enjoyment and in course, a better quality training and gameplay level from the side. This is because the players know each other and are therefore more accustomed to playing alongside each other.
This helped me in the case for my Surrey DPP side which I captained in a 29-19 win versus Sussex, a game that without all the players knowing and getting along with each other could have seen the result go the other way. Although programmes such as the Harlequins DPP are good as they enable players to gain extra training and skillsets, I believe at the age of 13 to 15, it does not matter what programme you are in as long as you are enjoying and developing your rugby in a group which has a positive impact upon you and your body. Then, you are in the right place.
A final positive to take away from this article, is to remember that in a negative there is always a positive. Not gaining entrance into one set-up or programme, can then lead you perform better and work harder than before as you want to beat rejection and find success. This can then lead you to find another set-up or programme that in fact may be better suited to you and provides the suitable environment for you at that time, enabling you to develop at the better rate than you would within another set-up. This leads to me to close with a quote my grand-father (nana) has told me, on numerous occasions. “Every cloud has a silver lining”.
Many thanks to the author of this article Arun Watkins, our new contributor. At 15 years old Arun already writes and plays above his age. We look forward to reading more. Thanks Arun!