Jason Leonard meets prop idol finalists

Junior Jason Leonards will get to meet the England legend as they bid for the title of Hampshire Prop Idol next Monday.


Twenty six boys and girls have reached the final of the pilot project designed to recruit and support young front-row players.


The 13 and 14-year-olds take part in the final evening of tests at HMS Temeraire, the Royal Navy School of Physical Training in Portsmouth on February 5.


And the world’s most capped forward will be on hand to watch the front-row forwards in action and hand out awards at the end of the evening


Prop Idol is the brainchild of Rugby Development Officer Gavin Williams, who wanted to raise the profile of front-row play and coaching, and to encourage children to develop their skills and retain their commitment to the game.


It is endorsed by Leonard, who won 114 caps in the front row for England and was part of the team that lifted the Rugby World Cup in 2003.


“It’s such a well thought-out scheme to promote front-row play and provide expert coaching and advice for young players,” said Leonard.


“Rugby’s for everyone and I hope they go on to get years of enjoyment from the game as a result.”


The finalists were produced by five regional roadshows where specialist coaching sessions were followed by strength, power and technical tests with balls, tackling bags and scrum machines.


But equally important is the off-field work, which includes training sessions for front-row mentors and a workshop for parents to show how scrummaging is coached, refereed and put into practice in a safe and controlled manner.


“There is a shortage of front-row players in the game and we wanted to raise the profile of the position and encourage more young players to take part,” said Hampshire RDO Williams.


“We wanted to attract as many young players as possible to take part in an exciting area of the game by developing their technical skills and making them aware of the openings that exist within the game for them.


“So far we’ve been impressed with the enthusiasm of the children taking part. Some are already involved in clubs and some have joined up after taking part for the first time in our roadshows.”


On Monday [February 5] the roadshow winners will each receive a trophy and a year’s membership of local sports centres through Hampshire’s Free Access for County Sports People (FACS) scheme.


The overall winners in the Under-13 Boys, Under-14 Boys and Under-14 Girls categories will also receive Sports Science and fast track physio and medical support through the county’s 4SM scheme for a year.


“Effectively they’ll get all the back-up they need to develop as athletes,” said Williams.


PROP IDOL FINAL QUALIFIERS


Under-13 boys


Jamie Charlton-Little (Winchester)


Melvyn Connell (Havant RFC)


Jack Finch (Romsey RFC)


Robert Green (Vectis RFC)


Henry Holland (Petersfield RFC)


William Phillips


Aiden Price (Vectis RFC)


Ben Stanistreet (Tottonians RFC)


Elliot White (Trojans RFC)


Pete Wolf (Basingstoke)


Under-14 boys


Sam Brown (Havant RFC)


Ben Bull (Overton)


Jacob Carter (Gosport & Fareham RFC)


Oliver Caws (Vectis RFC)


David Coutts (Alton RFC)


Harrison Marsh (Vectis RFC)


Alex Millen (Aldershot & Fleet RFC)


Oli Rix (Alton RFC)


Christian Roberts (Havant RFC)


Will Slowen (Tottonians RFC)


Under14 girls


Philippa Abernethy (Havant)


Hannah Bryan (Ellingham & Ringwood RFC)


Freddy Canton (Ellingham & Ringwood RFC)


Sarah Harvey (Havant)


Kayleigh Noyce (Ellingham & Ringwood RFC)


Emily Wakelin (Havant)



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