WITH the regional rugby card wiped out by the weather, attentions have turned to warmer climes for four Durham University students.
Josh Bayford, Harrison Collins, Josh Beaumont and Simon Hammersley have all been named in the England Students squad to travel and take on the Portugese national side this week.
Durham, unbeaten in league action for three seasons and again clear at the top of BUCS Premier North, will even boast the captain of England students, with Beaumont named skipper for a fixture which has now become a regular on the international calendar. The 20-year-old ex-Newcastle Falcons academy player and son of former England captain Bill Beaumont has recently broken into the Sale Sharks squad and was a starter in last weekend’s Heineken Cup date with French big-spenders Montpellier.
England Students head coach James Farndon said: “In Josh we have selected a captain who leads by example, is on form and can be relied upon under pressure.
“He played very well for England Students last year during a challenging campaign and the coaching and medical staff look forward to working with him in this important leadership role. We’re sure he will do a very good job in getting the best out of this year’s talented squad.
“He has captained Durham University very well this year and his recent selection to play for Sale is testament to him as an individual.”
Farndon added: “The Portugal fixture presents an excellent opportunity for these players selected to compete against a full IRB National team.
“Our focus throughout the trials and training period has been for players and staff to maximise the opportunity open to them.” The weather did not stop Durham University extending their unbeaten run against Edinburgh, albeit on synthetic turf due to the weather which wiped out most of the region’s fixture list.
Early calls were made at a number of venues to avoid wasted journeys.
Tynedale were saved a trip to Gloucestershire after National One rivals Cinderford held a pitch inspection yesterday morning.
Blaydon were similarly stymied at home to Blackheath, with both games set to be replayed on Saturday, February 9.