3rd July 2018, 12:48 | champion_schools

Stars of the future take Brooksbank to the brink

Stars of the future take Brooksbank to the brink


  • v Wade Deacon
  • Victoria Park, Warrington
  • Friday, July 6
  • 7pm kick off

Coach: Damian Ball

Squad: Coby Nichol, Bailey Dawson, James Dawson Thackray, Felix Lorimer, Joe Mcdonnell, Adam Smith, Emmerson Bradwell, Kieron Gallagher, Jack Lumb, Alex Burns, Robson McGowan, Matthew Nicholson, Lewis Mallinson, Alex Carter, Jamie Reeve, Lewis Jones, Jamie Craig.

"To be fair, I wouldn't have thought back in Year 7 that this team would be competing in a national final," says coach Damian Ball.

But here they are with just Wade Deacon standing in the way of them becoming champions.

"They have just got better and better as time's gone on," explains Damian.

"They started off in Year 7 and were a very capable team but just couldn't quite put it together for whatever reason. Over time they just seem to have grown and grown."

It’s the same sort of story as Brooksbank's Year 9 finalists, according to Damian. "They got to the National semi last year and were heavily defeated by the Welsh team Glantaf.

"We got a real lesson in rugby and I think this year they seem to have come back with real grit and got the bit between their teeth.

"They are a very capable set of lads and the fact that they are such a tight-knit team has taken them a long way.

"We've had a couple of players come in from in-year transfers that have boosted us. They are a cracking bunch of lads who get on really well and are committed to each other."

There are a number of boys on scholarships with professional clubs who have been particularly effective in the team’s run to the final.

"Matty Nicholson, our captain, is at Wigan Warriors, Robson McGowan, who joined us in Year 9, is at Leeds Rhinos along with Coby Nichol, who is a strong centre.

"And James Dawson-Thackery, our other centre, is at Huddersfield. They are quite instrumental in what we do.

"Our school, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to generate big players, it's really bizarre.

"When we play against Castleford Academy they have these big units. So our lads aren't the biggest but they're very athletic and have high skill levels, which has really paid off for us this year.

"We've got players who can create something out of nothing."

Damian is looking forward to the clash with Wade Deacon from Widnes, who are coached by is a mate of his, Chaz I'Anson.

"He's a very good coach - it's going to be a tough game.

"We played them in the National quarter final last year and beat them. I think they had a couple of players missing, so it wasn't a true reflection but it was still a really tough game. It will be great to lock horns with them again."

Damian says the school are fully behind the team and the support of head teacher Kevin McCallion is invaluable.

"He's an ex-PE teacher himself and really does put a lot of resources into what we do. Unfortunately, in education now, PE is falling down the pecking order, but he still holds those values and strongly believes in them.

"I'd also like to thank the parents, they’ve been instrumental in fund raising and are always a big part of what we do. Their support has been fantastic.

"They are a truly amazing set of people and we're delighted they've chosen to send their sons to Brooksbank and support us all the way."

  • Road to the Final
  • Round 1
  • Brooksbank 24-0 Standish
  • Quarter Final
  • Hinchley Wood 14-42 Brooksbank
  • Semi Final
  • Brooksbank 42-18 Saddleworth