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Parkin reflects on sensational festival season for Saints

Northampton Saints’ under-16s certainly caught the eye at last month’s Wellington and Silhillians festivals, and the Club’s junior academy development manager Will Parkin believes the sky’s the limit for the young group.

The men in Black, Green and Gold swept aside several of their Premiership club rivals over the course of the two weeks, with Saracens, London Irish, Wasps, and Gloucester Rugby all beaten.

“For many of these players, it was an opportunity to represent the Academy competitively for the first time, and they grasped it with both hands.”

Will Parkin, junior academy development manager

Despite one defeat to Bristol Rugby, the under-16s finished with a record of 28 tries scored – including some blistering length-of-the-field efforts – and just nine conceded.

And Parkin, who has coached the group this year alongside Barry Burgess, Pete White, James Ingle, Edd Rhodes, and Tim Grimsey, was elated with the quality of running rugby his young side were able to execute on the pitch.

“We played some brilliant rugby at Wellington and Silhillians so it’s clear the future is very bright for this group of players,” he said. “For many of them, it was an opportunity to represent the Academy competitively for the first time, and they grasped it with both hands.

“The Wellington festival is not only a chance for these guys to play rugby and train hard; there are also education sessions around nutrition, strength and conditioning, psychology, social media use, and anti-doping.

“So the week is also a great opportunity for them to develop off the field and take strides towards a career in professional rugby.

“Their schoolwork does not take a backseat either, with regular revision sessions blocked in, and now we are into exam time we will not play any more rugby as a group until July. But loads of the guys put their hands up to progress into the under-18s group when we start back up again.

“My thanks have to go to all the parents, schools, clubs and coaches that put so much effort into supporting the boys – it’s amazing to see all their hard work pay off.”