International rugby star inspires Barnard Castle pupils

Back row forward, Tom Wood, talked about both sport and his life beyond rugby during a lengthy webinar with students

Pupils at Barnard Castle School, County Durham, were offered exclusive insight into playing sport at the highest level when they chatted online with an international rugby star.

Tom Wood, a hard tackling forward with England and Northampton Saints, held an hour-long webinar with the students.

The Saints captain spoke on a wide range of subjects, including training, playing, the importance of recovery, the future of rugby and some of the more memorable people he had played with and against.

Pupils learned about the value of persistence when Wood recalled the disappointment of missing out on selection at trials for the England under-18 side.

Our students asked some excellent and astute questions and really benefited from Tom’s candid answers – Lee Dickson, Barnard Castle School’s director of rugby

“One scrum-half had a brilliant game, scoring three tries, and he still wasn’t picked,” he said. “He gave up the game that day, saying that if he hadn’t been selected on the basis of that performance, what was the point of continuing?

“I felt I’d played well and deserved a place too, but I didn’t get picked. But that brought out my anger, determination and aggression; it steeled me in my resolve, brought the best out in me. I came back better and played for England seniors.

“Persistence got me through. Even now, I’m not the biggest, or the fastest, but I just want it more than the people around me. I win more lineout balls in matches, even though I’m not the best at vertical jump tests in training.”


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The remote conversation was the latest in a series with professional sportsmen during the lockdown period.

This one was arranged by Lee Dickson, director of rugby at the school where he himself learnt the game.

He also happens to be a former teammate of Wood at both club and international level.

Our students asked some excellent and astute questions and really benefited from Tom’s candid answers,” he said.

“Barney enjoyed excellent sporting seasons this year and I am sure they will remember the insights they have learnt today for the rest of their careers.”

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