BTC's Rugby Programme Season Highlights - Bridgwater & Taunton College

With a significant amount of first year students linking up with our second year students in this shortened season the future looks very promising for BTC Rugby. Our first year students stepped up and thrived at college level rugby this year alongside their senior peers, who took on various leadership roles whilst providing a great example on how to take full advantage of their time at college, continually improving as a rugby player and more importantly as a person.

Competing across the South West our Men’s Rugby squad recorded some great results, the most notable of which was a fantastic comeback away to Exeter where they hung on for a fine win against tough opposition. The highlight of their season was at the Regional Sevens competition where some of their best rugby was played and showed how adaptable the players were to playing both forms of the game. This created much excitement within the squad in the run up to the annual Rosslyn Park 7s tournament where hopes were high for a strong performance but due to the coronavirus pandemic this was one of the earliest events cancelled.

Our Women’s Rugby Squad went from strength to strength again this year. Competing in a regular festival fixtures against a variety of colleges in the shortened sevens format, this provided a fantastic platform for them to also compete in various fifteen-a-side fixtures which gave plenty of opportunities to play in differing positions and be challenged at all times. The number of girls playing grew throughout the year with some crossing over from other sports, which was very pleasing to see.

Outside of the college we had a number players representing Somerset at under 17 & 18 level with most being part of both the age grade squads. The players included Finley Davis, Joe Salter, Kurt Gilbert, Oliver Hale, Oliver Washer, Paddy Lockyer, Reece Hale, Alex Evans, Martell Payn and Matthew Williams. Huge credit goes to both North Petherton RFC and Wiveliscombe RFC with most of the players playing their junior and colts rugby at the two clubs. Mya Andrews and Izzy Love played for Exeter Chiefs Women in their inaugural match away to Newcastle. Chiefs Women will be playing in the ten team Premiership this coming season.

Of the students to leave us this year Martell Payn is one who has made a name for himself on the rugby pitch. A very healthy try count in both of his seasons with many of which being individual pieces of magic. His sidestep and acceleration caused many defenders problems and whatever position asked to play Martell would always rise to the challenge and impose himself on every game. Martell is going on to study Sports Coaching at Cardiff Met and we look forward to hearing about his progress. Martell had the following say about his time with Team BTC;

Playing for Team BTC these past 2 years has been the best experience I have ever had: travelling down to Cornwall, my award I won each year, not so much Rosslyn Park being cancelled each year! I played with 2 sets of amazing players and friends, and my game has been improved massively by Brett and Luke over my time here, showing me ways to do things better and be more aware of my surroundings. I am looking forward to going to University at Cardiff Met and continuing to play rugby at a higher level. Thank you Team BTC

Abbey Alderwick has been a standout performer for our women’s side throughout her two years. Always keen to have the ball in hand in games she would finish and set up countless amounts of tries. She has developed massively over her time as a player and has been a fantastic example to her fellow students both on and off the pitch. Abbey now goes on to study Professional Photography at City of Bristol College, where we are sure she will fulfil her potential even more. She had the following to say about her time with Team BTC;

I have extremely enjoyed my past 2 years at BTC. It’s been great working with some of the top coaches, who really encouraged you to do your absolute best. I’ve also had some great teammates who have intensified my experience at BTC and many of those who I will never forget. Moving on to higher education (studying FDA Professional photography) this is going to be a huge step for me but I believe that it will benefit my career hugely. Alongside my education I will be continuing to play rugby for my local women’s team, I really look forward to this experience of moving into senior rugby

Tom Stephens has been an exemplary member of Team BTC over the past two years. Tom has led the side as captain this season and has built upon his first season with us, where he represented Bristol Bears in the Premiership Academy U18 league. Tom has set the example for the rest of the squad when it has come to combining his training, playing and academic work. Often being found in the gym before the college day and seeking out the coaches for extra sessions Tom strived hard to always improve with his work ethic also reflected in the classroom. Tom is to continue at the college next year looking to gain further qualifications and will be involved with the squad in a coaching and mentoring role. Tom reflected on his first two years at the college by saying;

I’ve had a great experience with Team BTC rugby over the past 2 years. The coaches have improved and developed me as a player working on individual skills and fitness which has helped me to continue playing at the top of my game. I can take what I have learnt and use it moving forward in coaching and helping players progress in the same way I have. I look forward to staying on another year at Bridgwater and Taunton College and I hope to contribute to future Team BTC rugby successes

Of our students to have left us in previous years it has been fantastic to see their continued progress with Jack Rees and Eoghan Westhoff playing for their respective first XV at North Petherton and Bridgwater & Albion respectively. Sam Villis is currently enhancing his rugby education in New Zealand playing for Cobras Rugby and it was great to have former student Joe Buller, who is studying at University of Bristol, complete his work placement with us as part of our coaching team this year.

Students at BTC accelerate their development due to the outstanding Sports performance provision provided at BTC. Where by every individual has access to Sport Science support, strength and conditioning programmes as well numerous technical and tactical sessions. This is supported through the Colleges rugby partnership with Bristol Bears. A number of players join us having come through the Developing Player Programme and Player Development Group. The PDG of which is hosted at BTC on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Our partnership is strengthened further with three of our coaches working with both BTC and Bristol Bears at various levels, this ensures that are students are receiving some of the highest quality coaching with opportunities for those who show potential to be involved further with the Bears.

Two players who will be continuing their elite player pathway with the college will be Rob Williams and Liam Dray, both of which have been rewarded with Scholarships. With our strong coaching links across both pathways Rob and Liam, who join us from Haygrove School, will have a seamless transition and their development will continue in line with theirs and the Bears Academy needs.

This year we are delighted to welcome back Roy Davies who will be leading our Women’s programme but will also be working with our Men’s squad. Roy comes with outstanding experience having coached at Premiership level in the Women’s game with both Bristol and Worcester and now being part of the Bristol Bears Player Development Group coaching team within the academy.

With the build up to next season already under way there is still time to apply for courses at BTC next year. For more information regarding Team BTC or studying at BTC as an elite athlete please email Team BTC Manager Jamie Laird on lairdj@btc.ac.uk

If you wold like more information about studying at Bridgwater and Taunton College please contact our information and Guidance team on 01278 441234 or visit www.btc.ac.uk

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