BLUES SIGN EIGHT FROM SARACENS
Bedford Blues are pleased to announce some significant signings ahead of the 2014/15 Greene King Championship season from Aviva Premiership side Saracens.
England U20 World Cup winners Nathan Earle, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Nick Tompkins, Maro Itoje and Bedford’s very own Aaron Morris will all be available at various stages of the season on Dual Registration.
Morris, who returns to Goldington Road having signed for Sarries in the Summer, came through the Academy at the Blues before becoming the youngest ever player to don a Bedford shirt in a competitive game in the professional era when he came off the bench to face Neath in the British & Irish Cup in December 2012 aged just 17.
Talking about signing on dual registration with the Blues, Aaron said: “I’ve truly had a whirlwind summer. I’ve experienced one of the most amazing months of my life by being involved with the England Under 20 squad which travelled to New Zealand and won the Junior World Championship, and then I’ve signed for one of the top clubs in the Premiership. All of this has come about because of Bedford Blues.
“I’m a Bedford lad and grew up playing rugby for the Blues from the age of five and have always been proud to represent the club no matter what the age level. Denis Ormesher brought me into the Academy and then Mike Rayer and all the coaches showed great faith in me to move me into the First team at a young age and I was tremendously excited to pull on the jersey for my first game against Neath.
“I spent time last season training with the Saracens Academy and when the offer of a full time contract was made it was a tough decision to move on from Goldington Road but everyone at the Blues has been amazing and encouraged to make this step.
“Having seen the likes of Owen Farrell, Will Fraser, Jackson Wray, George Kruis, Ben Ransom and, of course, Duncan Taylor all benefitting from dual registration, I’m really excited about linking up with the Blues again this season and hopefully staking a claim for first team rugby at Goldington Road and then Allianz Park.”
Speaking about Aaron’s immediate return to Bedford Blues, Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “Everyone at the club was tremendously proud of Aaron following his performances at the Junior World Championships where he was superb for England and we are delighted that he will be dual registered with us for the coming campaign. It also shows a genuine pathway for young players from around the Bedford area exists.
“Aaron spent time training with the Saracens Academy last season and went on to agree a contract with them at the conclusion of the Championship campaign. His talents are obvious for everyone to see and I’m sure that being in a full-time environment while gaining valuable on-field experience with us will benefit him, us and Saracens.”
Scott Spurling and Matt Hankin will also remain on dual registration with limited availability while significantly Eoin Sheriff joins on a season long loan deal.
Rayer added: “Our relationship with Saracens continues to grow and once again we have an amazing array of talented youngsters who will be available to us at certain times throughout the season.
Speaking about the Dual Registration agreement, Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “We are once again delighted to be working with Bedford Blues and continuing our relationship which has blossomed so well over the years. Thanks to this special relationship, many players have gained valuable experience within the Championship before making the transition to the Premiership and I hope that both clubs continue to benefit from this agreement.”
Eoin Sheriff, 25, Second Row:
Sherriff joined Saracens midway through the 2011/12 season on trial from Irish province Leinster. The former Gorey Community School pupil and Blackrock College player impressed the Saracens coaching staff in the Aviva A-League before being given his full debut against Worcester Warriors in the LV=Cup in January. He has represented Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 levels and the latter age group saw him winning nine caps.
Aaron Morris, 19, Fullback:
Nathan Earle, 19, Wing/Fullback:
What better start could there have been for Hong Kong-born Nathan Earle, whose nine-minute first team debut for Saracens ended in a 41-14 win over Worcester Warriors in the LV= Cup on January 29, 2012. He has already achieved much – scoring seven tries in eight matches for England U20, including six in five games in the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship, after which he was nominated for the IRB Junior Player of the Year award.
Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 19, Back row:
Appearing in the Melrose Sevens alongside experienced Saracens players and being in the winning side is a highlight in Hayden Thompson-Stringer’s embryonic career. He figured in his first A League game for Saracens Storm against Cambridge University and made the first of his four appearances for England U18 in the 44-7 win over Wales at Swansea in March last year. Five caps for England U20 followed this year, including three in the IRB Junior World Championship.
Nick Tompkins, 19, Centre:
A former captain of England U16 and U17, Nick Tompkins made his debut at U18 level in the 28-25 win over Wales in Wellington on the 2012 summer tour of South Africa and started all five matches when the U20 side lifted the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in June. He has played in all ten games in that age group this year.
Maro Itoje, 19, Lock/Back Row:
A member of Saracens Academy, Maro Itoje has represented England U17 and captained both Harpenden RFC and St George’s VA School in his age group and played for Hertfordshire U14, U15 and U16. Remarkably, he went on to score a try in every U20 Six Nations game this year, was the BMW Man of the Match in the 48-15 win over Scotland at Galashiels and England’s BMW Man of the Tournament.
Matt Hankin, 21, Back Row:
Hankin has been a regular in the Saracens Storm side for the past three seasons and will be hoping to continue his rich vein of form at the Blues which saw him recalled to the Saracens squad at the end of last season. He has toured Australia with England U18s and was a key member of the England U20s team who beat Wales in the 2013 JWC Final.
Scott Spurling, 21, Hooker:
England U20s hooker Scott Spurling is a graduate of the Saracens Academy who has spent the last two seasons with Bedford Blues. His pace and ball handling skills came to the fore when he featured in the Saracens side that made the final of the JP Morgan Sevens and he made his full debut for Saracens against Worcester Warriors in the LV=Cup in the 2011/12 season. Spurling was part of the England U20s squad that reached the final of the IRB Junior World Championships in France in the summer of 2013.