RUGBY Lions are the pride of their college after representing the region on a tour of schools in Scotland.
The best players from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, united with fellow Emmanuel Schools Foundation students from The King’s Academy, Middlesbrough, Bede Academy, Blyth, and Trinity Academy, Thorne, to form an elite 24-man squad for the week-long Scottish rugby tour.
And the team were on course for a hat-trick after winning their first two matches convincingly.
In their opening game against Longridge Towers, Berwick, the Lions won by 49-0, then went on to take their second win 10-0 over The High School of Glasgow.
Sadly their last game against North Berwick High School ended in a 12-48 defeat for the Gateshead players and their teammates from around the country.
But two Emmanuel players were recognised for their commitment during the tour with Bevan Leeke being named Most Improved Lion and Cameron Nyambega taking the Lion of the Tour title.
Tour manager and vice principal of Emmanuel College, Matt Waterfield, said: “This is the ninth year that the ESF has brought together the best of the best to take part in its annual rugby tour and we had high hopes of pulling off a hat-trick of victories this year.
“Not only is the tour a wonderful chance to play rugby at a very high level but it is also a great opportunity for the students, from all four schools, to get to know each other much better.”
Mr Waterfield added: “North Berwick fielded a very talented squad, which included four Scotland young internationals. Our Lions were the only side to have scored twice against them all season.”
Before leaving on the tour the nine players from Emmanuel College – Stephen Barnes, Matthew Cornish, Alex Iveson, Ben Fox, Cameron Nyambega, Thomas Roberts, Bevan Leeke, Niall Vitty and Jack Weddle – along with their teammates, were each presented with a full rugby kit by Emmanuel College assistant head boy Sam Hedley, who took part in the tour last year.
As well as playing the matches the students were also given a tour of Murrayfield Stadium before watching Edinburgh Rugby take on Benetton Treviso and got the opportunity to enjoy an evening bowling and scaling the heights at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena.
Student Stephen Barnes, 16, of Gateshead, a flanker for Blaydon Rugby Club, added: “It’s an honour to be selected for the Lions tour and has made me realise just how much the school appreciates you playing for them.
“It’s also made me realise that I’m probably a better player than I thought I was – I was thinking about giving up the game but now I think I’ll carry on for a bit longer.
“It’s been great to meet all the other students on the tour. We had a strong team and we went out there and gave our best.”