Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Serge in support for rugby juniors

A FORMER French rugby union international has teamed up with juniors players at The Henley College.

A FORMER French rugby union international has teamed up with juniors players at The Henley College.

Serge Betsen, 41, who played for London Wasps during his 16-year career, will help out with coaching and mentoring at the college’s Wasps academy programme.

In exchange, the team will support his Serge Betsen Academy project in his native Cameroon and could also take part in rugby exchanges with France or America.

Betsen, a flanker who played 63 times for his country, was approached about the link-up after meeting Henley businessman Harry Corrigan in London.

He said: “Harry and I met in the summer and he is someone who has got good experience and passion for rugby.

“We met at the French rugby headquarter in Kensington and his son Conor knows my wife as a teacher.

“The link is all about rugby first of all. The Wasps academy is going to support my charity and has already got a few ideas for fund-raising.

“We want to help people develop and give back to the kids who want to be professional players or just enjoy the sport.

“I played for and captained Wasps and I believe in ‘once a Wasp, always a Wasp’.

“We need to keep that DNA going and if I can help the team become champions I will be there to support the boys.” During his time at Wasps, Betsen played at Dry Leas, the home of Henley Rugby Club, alongside England international Lawrence Dallaglio in an A-league match.

The Serge Betsen Academy helps underprivileged children by helping them access education and basic healthcare as well as introducing them to rugby.

He also runs Serge Betsen Rugby, a project aimed at promoting rugby at French schools in London. Mr Corrigan, of Ruperts Lane, Henley, helps with the college’s academy programme, where his son used to be a player.

He said: “I’ve known Serge for a couple of years now and I said that it might be good for both him and the college if we could come together.

“He could coach the boys and in return they could help him by coaching at some of the French schools where he has academies.

“He has a lot of good friends who are international coaches and players in different parts of the world, especially France and the USA.

“He can come in with all his experience and make a phone call to exchange players from those places. It can also be a pathway for some of the boys who have left the college and didn’t make it into the Wasps academy.

“We have 30 boys and I think 15 of them could play for the Henley Hawks first team. Coming together with Serge, he will have players who can fit into our programme and we have boys who can go to him. He will spend a bit of time at Dry Leas and I’d be surprised if he didn’t become a regular fixture up here to help out with the coaching and talk about the academic side as well.

“In return we can raise awareness of his academies in Cameroon and what he’s doing for the kids out there.

“He can bring his prestige and experience to our boys. He’s a fabulous guy who can be a very powerful figure for us.”

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