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'Academy U18 League an exciting opportunity' - Marsden

Academy backs coach, Sean Marsden believes it’s an exciting time for the club’s youngsters to be pulling on the blue and white hoops, ahead of the U18s season opener against Bath later this month.

Marsden, who works with academy forwards coach, Mark Irish in the U18 setup, says it’s an honour to play his part in developing the next generation of Bristol Rugby stars and believes the current crop are capable of doing well in this season’s competition. 

“I love coming into work every day, it’s an amazing club to be a part of and the opportunity to work with some really talented players is a real privilege,” he says.

“We’re really looking forward to the U18s Academy League season getting under way and feel confident that the lads can put in some really good performances and play some entertaining rugby.

“It’s just an exciting time to be involved at Bristol Rugby, as a key part of the club’s vision is the emphasis on getting home grown, Bristolian players into the senior setup. It is brilliant for the young academy lads to watch Bristol play and see the likes of Joe Joyce, Andy Uren and Jack Tovey running out at Ashton Gate.

“The U18s are champing at the bit to play Bath on December 20th, and the excitement is building as the game gets closer. The lads have been training really well and we are looking forward to watching them go out and express themselves.”

Remarkably, two of the current U18 squad – Will Capon and Charlie Powell - have already made their senior club debuts, coming off the bench during October’s British and Irish Cup defeat to Doncaster Knights at Ashton Gate, with Marsden calling on the duo to lead from the front for the U18s.

Mark Irish (left) and Sean Marsden, who take charge of the U18 side, with Alan Martinovic (JMP UK).

“In Will Capon and Charlie Powell, we’ve got two fantastic characters who have already had experience of the senior setup.

“Charlie was lucky enough to complete a full pre-season with the squad and Will has had some exposure in the British and Irish Cup, so they are two players who know what it takes to break into the senior setup and can lead by example.

“But they’re not the only ones, in fact we’ve got eight or nine young lads who have featured in the A League, or Bristol United friendlies. The alignment between the seniors and juniors is really important and we’re seeing the strength of that this season.

“Pat is coming in to speak to the players next week before the first game and he is always keen to help. He regularly asks how things are going and wants updates on players coming through the system.

“As an example of the alignment, we’ve got Ian Madigan working with one of our young fly halfs on his goal kicking and he’s really become a mentor-figure to him. It’s this sort of thing that will benefit the club for years to come and shows how aligned the club is from top to bottom.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for this group of players and I’m confident they can rise to that challenge, starting with a local derby in just over two weeks.”

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