Youngsters from Northampton Saints Academy have been getting a taste of military life ahead of the new rugby season.
Saints’ U18s side trained for a week at the Army’s rugby stadium in Aldershot, as well as learning more about Armed Forces life on a visit to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
“Bringing the boys down here we wanted to give them some education, first of all around the history of the Club, but also we have a duty of care,” said Academy manager Mark Hopley.
“It’s part of the nature of the sport that not all of these boys will get contracts to be professional rugby players. So it’s really important for us to show them what else is out there, and how they might be able to use rugby to progress their careers elsewhere.
“It’s a real eye-opener for a lot of these players. The links between the forces and rugby are strong, with a lot of transferrable skills between the two, and we wanted to show them that connection.
“But ultimately for us, it’s also about taking a group of 30 players that all play at different schools and different clubs, and using the brilliant facilities here to spend some quality time together.
“The boys have applied themselves really well so it’s been really beneficial for us.”
“The links between the forces and rugby are strong, with a lot of transferrable skills, and we wanted to show them that connection.”Mark Hopley, Academy manager
During the camp, the squad stayed at Normandy Barracks – using the gym and swimming pool there to keep themselves in top condition.
Academy player Geordie Irvine already knew a bit about life in the Army; his older brother is currently at Sandhurst training to be an officer.
“He’s been there since May and he’s pretty much just finished his first term,” Irvine said.
“I didn't actually know I was going to meet up with him. We went into the meeting room and one of the Regimental Sergeant Majors asked whether I’d like to meet him.
“Five minutes later, he walked in mid-talk and then he came around with us for the talk.
“This has been an eye-opener for us. The facilities are excellent and seeing the way they train is extremely impressive.”