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In-Depth: Uren ready to shake off ‘youngster’ tag

Andy Uren is hoping to shake off the ‘promising youngster’ tag and establish himself as Bristol Rugby’s first choice scrum half, after signing a two-year contract extension at the club.

The academy graduate, who joined the club aged just 13, insists age is just a number in his quest to nail down the number nine shirt – but knows it won’t come easy.

“I’ve been in the junior and senior academy setup for a long time but I’m really happy to sign a first team contract. It’s my third year as a professional now and I’m really excited for the next two years.

“I’ve always been one of the younger players in the team and I was 23rd or 24th man for the majority of games last season, but now that I’ve started to play and be selected, I think some of the senior players have stopped seeing me as just ‘the youngster’.

Andy Uren in action for Bristol United against Bath United at Hornets RFC (JMP UK).

“That’s how I want it to be, I want to be involved as much as possible and establishing myself in the first team. I want to keep playing, keep improving and nail down that shirt.

“I know I’m still young, but I have the ambition to be the first-choice scrum half and that’s what I’m working towards.

“Pat (Lam) has given me the confidence to play my game - and how he wants the team to play suits my game. I enjoy running with the ball and making breaks, so it’s an exciting time to be playing in this team.”

“He (Pat) wants me to be controlling and vocal on the pitch and there’s a lot of defensive responsibility for the scrum half in his systems. I’ve got to make sure my passing is bang on, because a poor pass to the fly half can muck up our play, so I know I need to be on the money with that as well.”

“I know I’m still young, but I have the ambition to be the first-choice scrum half and that’s what I’m working towards."

Andy Uren

Uren has learnt the value of extra hours on the training paddock during his three-year tenure as a professional – and knows more of the same is required if he is to fine tune his game to the international standards demanded of him by the coaching team.

Luckily for the former Keynsham RFC junior, ‘extras’ - as he describes it - are nothing new and ‘really important’, if he is to fulfil his enormous potential in the game.

“Extras are really important. I don’t think it really matters how talented you are unless you put the work in. It sounds simple and obvious, but you’re not going to get better unless you practise.

“Sean Marsden has been a big influence on me with this, we try and do 150 passes and 20 box kicks after training every day, which is really important to me because when it comes to a game, you need to be able to execute it correctly.”

Uren’s Bristol Rugby career is still very much in its infancy, but he already has two standout moments in the blue and white hoops, both of which will live long in the memory.

A fresh-faced Uren in action for Keynsham at U13 level.

“Making my debut at 17 was obviously a big moment for me, but it was made even more special by the fact that it was on the same team as my brother, Steve. I actually beat his record as the youngest player to play for the club in a competitive game by a few months, which was even better.

“The other one is the try I scored in the play-off semi-final against Bedford at Ashton Gate last season. There was a big crowd, it was on Sky Sports and it was my first big game for the club. I got an interception and ran 60 metres to score and everyone jumped on me. I’ll always remember that try and how it felt hearing the crowd cheer it.”

A two-year contract extension gives Uren plenty of time to create many more memories in Bristol Rugby colours – one of which, he hopes, is an instant return to English rugby’s top flight.