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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Super Mac leads bid to conquer Europe

rugby league

By Martin Morgan

WHITEHAVEN High School’s all-conquering RL champions launch their bid to be crowned European stars today when they face hosts Serbia.

A clash against the might of Russia will follow, with the group winners going forward to a play-off phase against the top nations from a group comprising France, Wales and Scotland.

Whitehaven’s Year 11 youngsters are representing England and have gone forward to the European Federation Under-16 championship as Carnegie Champion School holders.

But they are the only school taking part in the tournament and will be facing the cream of rugby talent from across Europe.

“Obviously the lads are facing an unknown quantity,” said Haven’s development manager Alan Davidson, who with the club’s scholarship boss Gary Hewer, has joined the trip to Eastern Europe.

“Serbia are going to be fired up, and then it’s Russia, who will be a big strong side. But hopefully what the Whitehaven lads lack in size, they will make up for in skill and enthusiasm.”

Three of the Whitehaven teenagers, Greg McNally, Adam Ramsden and Michael Lithgow, have joined the Recre club on professional forms, while a handful of the other top performers are on scholarship forms with the NL1 club.

The Euro tournament, which runs to July 4, is only the second of its kind, following a successful debut in Moscow, a couple of years ago.

Andy Harland, the RFL’s national development manager, said: “Not many schools get the chance to represent their country in a European championship.”

McNally, rated one of Haven’s top prospects, is on a three-year contract at the Recre.

He scored his school’s opening three tries in their Carnegie Champion Schools final against last year’s Year 10 winners Malet Lambert of Hull, at Leeds in March.

The scrum-half then landed a last-gasp conversion, with the scores tied, to ensure the title returned to Cumbria.

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