The Next Generation
The Anglo-Welsh Cup is the often-overlooked third competition in the Saints’ calendar.
I say ‘overlooked’ because it coincides with the Autumn Internationals at this time of year, then the Six Nations when it returns at the end of January, and has a format which can be quite confusing to some.
However as a rugby fan I look forward to these weekends because it gives us an opportunity to see some of the next generation of players in competitive first team action.
Our second team plays on Mondays, and while their matches are entertaining there’s nothing like seeing how the players step up on a Saturday.
This is also the case when you come up against other clubs. Gloucester this weekend are a good example. Look down their team list and there wouldn’t be that many recognisable names, but give it six months and these lads might very well be playing in the Aviva Premiership or be knocking on the door of international recognition.
This has happened here at the Saints regularly. Courtney Lawes, for example, shone in an Anglo-Welsh Cup game against Bristol some seven years ago, played in the European Challenge Cup the following weekend and didn’t look back after that. A year later he was in the England squad.
This has happened with plenty of first teamers, too, the likes of Alex Waller, Jamie Elliott, Mikey Haywood, who all have over 100 appearances even though they’re in their mid-20s.
I always try to spot the guys who will follow in their footsteps, although I’m not going to say who! But suffice to say, while England might be playing South Africa at Twickenham this Saturday, I know I’d prefer to be at the Gardens to see the next generation strut their stuff!
Director of Communications