Locals backed to bring county crown home

p08150-1_post_rugby'25/2 garvey mary ''Churchers College student Joe Atkinson has been selected for the u16s England rugby squad.'p08150-1
p08150-1_post_rugby'25/2 garvey mary ''Churchers College student Joe Atkinson has been selected for the u16s England rugby squad.'p08150-1
Southsea Nomads made progress. Picture: Neil Marshall

Heathens suffer disappointment... Nomads progress

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Hampshire under-20s coach Barry Bridgeman is backing his young charges to lift the County Championship trophy at Twickenham tomorrow (5pm).

The young county side take on Gloucestershire in the final of the prestigious competition, with an abundance of local talent making up the Hampshire ranks.

In total, 13 players from the area have been named in the squad for the clash, with Harry Hordell, Nick Leach, Nick Lynch, Matt Peters (all Portsmouth RFC), Jarryd Robinson, Rob Elsmore, Dominic Porter (all Havant RFC) and Joe Atkinson (Peterfield RFC) all named in the starting XV.

And coach Robinson is confident his young troops, who he’s labelled his ‘best ever’, have what it takes to bring the trophy back to the south coast.

‘This is a huge day for the youngsters, who fully deserve to have their day at Twickenham,’ said Bridgeman.

‘They are a highly-talented squad and it will be a long time before we get a group of players like this again.

‘It is the best group of players I have ever coached.

‘We are determined to go up there and enjoy the whole occasion knowing that we possess the ability to win.

‘Gloucestershire will be tough but I think it will boil down to who wants it most on the day.

‘We have done our best to prepare the players and tried to make sure they are not overawed by their surroundings.

‘It has been an exciting campaign in which we have racked up good scores against strong opponents.

‘Getting to the final is a huge achievement, but I am confident we can go on and win it.

‘This team will fight every inch for each other and give a good account of themselves.’

Hampshire have no injury concerns going into the game and select a full-strength side as they look to emulate their last county crown in 2002.

Rivals Gloucestershire name nine players who lined-up alongside Atkinson in the England Counties under-20 side who suffered defeat at the hands of Scotland last weekend.

Hampshire under-20: 15 James Hammond (Fordingbridge), 14 Myles Roberts-Bailey (Newbury Blues), 13 Callum Staff (Basingstoke), 12 Harry Hodell (Portsmouth), 11 Jarryd Robinson (Havant), 10 Chris Lewis (Bath University), 9 Andy Gale (Newbury Blues); 1 Rob Elsmore (Havant), 2 Callum O’Connell (London Scottish), 3 Alex Hibdige (Andover), 4 Nick Leach (Portsmouth), 5 Nick Lynch (Portsmouth), 6 Dominic Porter (Havant), 7 Joe Atkinson (Loughborough University and Petersfield – captain), 8 Matt Peters (Portsmouth). Replacements: 16 Sean Haberfield (Southampton Solent University), 17 Matt Flower (Gosport and Fareham), 18 Rob Gicquel (Portsmouth), 19 Lawrence Warren-West (Havant), 20 Charlie Cutler (Portsmouth), 21 Jack Parsons (Winchester), 22 Ben Barry (Portsmouth University).