Saturday, 20 August 2022

Successful partnership to double in size next season

THE manager of Henley College’s rugby partnership with London Wasps says the future “looks very bright”.

THE manager of Henley College’s rugby partnership with London Wasps says the future “looks very bright”.

Jack Wiggins says the programme, which sees players at the college join up with the Wasps academy, has been “rejuvenated” since he joined the college in September.

Wasps almost pulled the plug on the programme 18 months ago after being frustrated at a lack of results but the team now boasts dozens of potential future professionals, some who have already made international debuts.

The side finished in the top three of the RFU AASE Southern League this year and has seen record numbers of new applicants for next year.

Wiggins joined the college after five years working in New Zealand. He said: “When I joined it looked like Wasps were going to step away from the programme. I rejuvenated the relationship and the club is now really behind us.

“The boys came together well this year. We only have them for two years so we try to make sure they stick together. They worked hard in pre-season and got better and better.

“I’m really pleased, I’ve enjoyed my first year here. It was a big step to move back from New Zealand but I’m glad I did it.

“With the recent success of Wasps and the exciting vision of the college, the rugby programme is really starting to grow. We have established a strong base and with the ongoing support of Henley Hawks the future looks very bright.”

Three players from the squad have picked up international caps this year. Captain Alex Crocker was selected in the Ireland U18s Four Nations squad, while number eight Tom Willis and loose head prop Michael Guida were picked for England’s under 17s and U18s respectively.

At club level, fly-half Connor Eastgate signed a senior academy contract with London Wasps, tight head prop Cecil MacCarthy was awarded a scholarship at Nottingham Trent University and blindside flanker Jacob Turner agreed to join Championship side Bedford Blues for the start of next season.

The programme is also hoping more of its players will graduate on to play for Henley Hawks, who were relegated from the National League 1 this season. Open side flanker Scott White became a regular fixture in the Hawks side towards the end of the season, while the reserve side, Henley Bulls, is currently dominated by Henley College students.

There has also been success with previous students on the programme. Jack Willis, who played for the side last year, has extended his contract with Wasps after an impressive Six Nations with England U20s and 2011 student Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas appeared on the RBS Sevens Circuit with England. Exeter Chiefs loose head prop Alec Hepburn, a Henley College graduate in 2010, is also hoping to make the Premiership final with his club and appear for England Saxons.

The programme is expected to double in size next season after 35 students were selected to join from around the country.

Coach Martin Unsworth said: “Wasps have invested in to the programme, as has the college, and we’ve had success with these boys.

“It took the college to make a commitment, employing Jack as a full-time coach, and the result is we will double in numbers next year.”

College principal Simon Cuthbert added: “The rugby programme is a brilliant addition to the college. We are recruiting high quality rugby players, some of whom are already playing for Wasps and other teams.

“Academically they are also doing really well too, we have players coming here to do A-levels and vocational courses.”

For more information on the programme email Wiggins on

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