Friday, 19 August 2022

England stars put Shiplake through their paces

FORMER England rugby player Mike Catt OBE led an hour-long coaching session for pupils at Shiplake College.

FORMER England rugby player Mike Catt OBE led an hour-long coaching session for pupils at Shiplake College.

The 43-year-old, who retired from the sport at international level in 2007, was helped by England flanker and London Wasps captain James Haskell.

The pair put several dozen year nine boys through a series of games and exercises to improve their teamwork, passing and tackling skills.

They first split them into two groups and got them to practise dodging an opponent’s tackle while running with the ball. They then had to tackle practice bags with their left and right shoulders and get back up again as quickly as possible.

Afterwards, the boys were divided into groups of five and had to run the length of the field while carrying a tackling bag above their heads.

Finally, they had to run between a series of cones and the slowest had to perform additional exercises as a forfeit.

The pupils then listened to a short speech by Catt and asked questions about his career.

He told them: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking part in a sport or whether it’s in the classroom — it’s all about having energy and the right attitude and having fun, whatever you do.”

The session was an auction prize at a charity dinner organised by former England prop Jason Leonard last year. It was won by the parents of year nine student Harrison Richards. Haskell’s appearance was not advertised so came as a surprise.

Sam Beckett, the school’s head of rugby, said: “We’ve been incredibly lucky to have the two of them here today and the boys have got a huge amount out of it.

“Mike Catt is a hugely experienced coach and James Haskell is a very experienced player and they’ve worked well together.”

Catt, who now coaches the England team, said: “There was a lot of enthusiasm from the boys and that’s all you can ask for from a coach.

“They were actually a lot easier to teach than professional players — they were much more energetic and more willing to listen. They were great guys and we had a lot of fun.”

Haskell said: “The boys were great and seemed to pick everything up pretty quickly. Mike is a great coach so I’m sure they will take a lot away from this.”

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