11 February 2018 / Club News

Bridgend Athletic Youth Academy Players - Season 2017-2018

Reigning Ospreys OA and National Youth League Champions Bridgend Athletic youth despite losing 12 of last season’s National League winning cup and 15 of the squad side are again on target to retain their Ospreys OA league title. They are also in the quarter final of the National Youth Cup facing a journey west to Crymych on the 17th February. They have won all 6 of this season’s OA league fixtures – 5 with bonus point victories.


They are benefitting from current head coach Lee Grabham’s foresight when still Under 16’s coach when he joined the Youth set up in November 2015 to bring through his U16 side as mainly a 2nd Youth team the Rags in season 2016-2017. That side competed in the Ospreys OC league and were beaten finalists to Treorchy Youth in the Welsh Bowl Final at the Millenium Stadium. Lee was assisted by other Athletic stalwarts John Doherty and Kevin Gamble, while Keith Hobby took on the mantle of Team Manager and Fixture Secretary. John has stepped down this season, but Paul Obbard and Mike Groom have come on board with the Rags youth side this season mainly coming from their U16’S 2016-2017 team.


The success of the team is reflected in four of the players Captain and flanker Joe Grabham, No 8 Will Barraclough, centre Dan O’Sullivan and utility back Caine Woolerton being current Ospreys Academy players. Grabham has captained the Ospreys U18 side and is pack leader, while he, Barraclough, Woolerton and lock Tom Davies have been ever present in Ospreys U18 match day squads. Flanker Dan Osarigie and prop Chris Crumpton have also featured in Ospreys U18 squads this season. An eighth Youth player wing Joe Patterson plays for the Blues U18 squad.


Eight of last season’s youth players have featured in the Athletic 1st XV competing in Division 1 West Central of the National Leagues this season, so Lee’s team’s coaching influence has benefitted the club hugely over the last 3 seasons.


They are carrying on a proud Athletic youth success story since the youth was founded in season 1976-77 by Clive Easterbrook and David Davison and captained by Terry Pemberton. Two British Lions Lee Byrne and Rhys Webb played for the Athletic Youth as well as current regional and Welsh players Scott Baldwin and Matthew Morgan. Josh Navidi played age group rugby until U16 level, before heading to college in New Zealand, and subsequently returning to the Blues Region. As well as Wales 7’S players, U21, U20, U19 Welsh caps the youth have had 19 Welsh Youth U18 players including 5 in one golden 2008-2009 season when the club won the double Welsh Youth and National League (RAF Youth) Final. They also won the Welsh Youth Cup in 2007 - 2008. Current 1st XV captain Ben Howe, prop Matthew Norman, hooker Nathan Holman and scrum half Aled Thomas also featured in that season. Former Athletic 1st XV prop Rhodri Apsee and flanker Tom Morgan both now with the Ravens also played in the final and have also played permit games for the Athletic this season.


The very talented current youth side are on course this season for at least the Ospreys OA league title and with luck can go far in this season’s cup competition and hopefully emulate last season’s side and win the National League title.

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