Congratulations to former Y Pant pupil Scott Andrews who wins his second international cap for Wales when he makes his first start for his country against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 3rd December.
Scott joins fellow former Y Pant pupil Bradley Davies who is well established in the team.
Another former pupil Jevon Groves was in the World Cup winning Welsh 7s team.
A former pupil of the school is reaching dizzying heights in his sporting career and I put my questions to him at the start of the month.
Mark Wool left Y Pant in 2008 since then his rugby league career has chartered a course for the pinnacle of any young aspiring sportspeople. He has already racked up caps for Great Britain, Wales and Celtic Crusaders. Mark who resides in Headingly, Leeds is currently in his second year of studying Sports Development at Leeds Metropolitan University. Currently, he plays for Leeds Met. Rugby League – who have been the best university team in the country for the last five years, Mark also plays for the Great Britain Students team and was capped recently against Australia. Mark is in talks with a club in Championship One but he found time in his busy schedule to answer my questions.
MS: What is your fondest memory of mini rugby?
MW: I have two, one in mini rugby and one in junior. My mini rugby memory would have to be playing for Pontypridd Schools at Under 11′s. We got to the final of the D.C.Thomas Cup and played before the Principality Cup Final between Newport and Neath at the Millennium Stadium Vs. Cardiff Schools. My junior rugby memory would be at Under 16′s, when I was captained the side that went on tour to Italy. On both occasions we lost in the final very narrowly, but nevertheless they were both a fantastic experience.
MS: What would be your proudest moment in sporting terms?
MW: Winning my first full Welsh International Rugby League cap this August.
MS: When did you take up rugby league? Why? And did you find the transition difficult?
MW: I took up rugby league about 4 years ago, during the summer. I had wanted to play league through the summer for the two years previous to that but never got round to it due to injuries and not knowing the right people. It was something I had fancied attempting to see what difference there was, if any. The transition in actual rugby terms was pretty straight forward, the rules tend not to be as complicated as union, however, I found that I needed to be a lot fitter to play league than union.
MS: How were you informed that you were going to play for GB? And was it expected?
MW: When I was first selected for GB 18′s over 2 years ago, I received a phone call from one of Wales Rugby League members. It was totally unexpected as I was playing for Wales 18′s for the first time within a regional competition. I had absolutely no idea that it was being used as a trial for the GB side, so the phone call was a bit of a shock to begin with.
MS: Who do you thank the most for your success up to now?
MW: I often believe that I have been real lucky up to now with some achievements. But I have had some great coaches over the last couple of years that continue to make me a better player and improve my knowledge of the game. However, the support of my parents, especially my father, who have travelled all over the country to watch me has been a massive boost for me to keep wanting to achieve something more.
MS: What is it that inspires you?
MW: Pretty simple really. I hate to lose, I will do anything I can to win. I always want to be the best at anything, and I really get frustrated when I am not.
MS: You’ve had a few injuries, what do you think is key when recovering from an injury?
MW: Always think positive that you will come out of the injury stronger. But never rush out of the injury, make sure that you are 100% fit before you get back to playing. Continue to stay fit in other ways before you get to rugby based activities.
MS: What advice do you give to younger pupils in the school who are aspiring to be professional sportsmen and women?
MW: If you get knocked back in something, don’t settle for it. Keep going and work hard, eventually you will get your rewards.
MS: Were you nervous about leaving Pontyclun to go to University?
MW: Not at all. I couldn’t wait to get out of Pontyclun, I wanted to experience something different, and have my own independence. It was really exciting moving to a new city and country, meeting new people and getting used to new surroundings. However, it is nice to come back home every now and then.
MS: Do you miss Mammy and Daddy?
MW: Of course. It would be pretty harsh if I had said no. They are putting me through university aren’t they! But I speak to them, especially my dad quite often, at least once a week, and see them every month or so when I have games, so it’s not too bad.
MS: What do you find hardest about University?
MW: Getting my head around doing the work. It’s difficult when I’m so interested in the rugby and social side of it. I just need to organise my time to do work a bit better.
MS: Were you worried that your sporting career would be damaged when you went to University?
MW: Definitely not. The move to Leeds partly to improve my chances within rugby league as there are far more opportunities up north than there are in South Wales. So far the move has proved pretty successful, so it has not damaged my sporting career as yet.
MS: What are you aspirations for the future?
MW: Obviously, I would love to make a career out of rugby, which I my short term goal. But I am also aiming to achieve a good degree and go into a sports coaching role, with a possible move into primary teaching.
Mark Wool, our Deputy Prefect in year 13, has progressed through the ranks of mini, junior and youth rugby to represent Great Britain in the Under 18 Rugby League Squad. During the summer of 2007, Mark decided to try his luck at rugby league and commenced training and playing with the Valley Cougars, based in Aberdare.
Mark’s aptitude for the game was obvious and during his first game he gained a brace of tries and three conversions. His potential was immediately recognised and he was invited to train with the Celtic Crusaders – joining their academy set-up.
The success led to training and trials with the Wales U18’s squad where Mark gained a place in the squad to play against Scotland. The fixture was also the regional trial for the Great Britain squad and Mark made a try scoring debut in the 36 – 0 victory.
After two club games and one for his country, Mark was offered the ultimate accolade of playing for his nation; he was selected to play for the “Great Britain U18’s Community Lions” against France Juniors in the Pamier Stadium, Toulouse.
On Weds 5 th December and with two hundred minutes of game experience – Mark made the giant step from an excellent local talent – to a young man representing his nation, a very proud moment for his parents Andrew and Caroline.
The game in Southern France was a pulsating contest with end to end rugby. Mark joined the action 5 minutes before half time and played through to the final whistle, a daunting task for one with such limited experience – but Mark thoroughly enjoyed it.
The game finished 26 – 26, an excellent result on French soil.
Mark’s dedication, determination and enthusiasm for the game of rugby have led to his success in the sport. He has played the game in two codes, passed his level one coaching and refereeing qualifications, which he utilises in assisting with both our school teams and his brother’s Under 13’s team at Pontyclun Rugby Club.
Mark Wool is a prodigious talent who may well become one of the international players of the future. He is an exemplary pupil and an excellent role model for our younger students.
Y Pant School is this term celebrating the success of its Under-13 Rugby 7s team who were crowned Welsh champions on Thursday at Parc Y Scarlets.
More than 40 teams competed for the trophy over two days of gruelling competition. The Y Pant team eventually came through a challenging and nail-biting group stage on Day 1. Ten teams from all over Wales qualified for Day 2.
In the second group phase Y Pant were unbeaten in 4 games, posting an emphatic aggregate total of 122 points scored to a mere 49 conceded. The semi-final was equally convincing as Y Pant defeated Dwr-Y-Felin School 37 – 5. The final itself was a closely-fought local derby with Y Pant eventually defeating near-neighbours Cowbridge 14-10.
The successful squad of players was: James Little, Kieron Moroney, Jack Bunyan, Arwel Poacher, Morgan Raison, Lewis Morgan, Jordan Chan, Cory Stephens, Sam Prior, Ioan Williams, McCauley Burgess, Rhydian Evans