International honours for ‘Invincibles’
Seven past or present members of DURFC have earned selection to the England Students squad for a trio of upcoming international fixtures.
James Hallam, Josh Beaumont, Andrew McCulla, Mike Ward and Tom Shiel are the current players to have won a place in the elite 29-man squad, while two stars from last year’s all-conquering Palatinates have also been called up.
They are Tom O’Toole and ex-captain Rob Malaney, both of whom also recently competed for Cambridge in the televised Varsity fixture at Twickenham.
International recognition for Durham’s finest is long overdue, as not one Palatinate was included in last season’s national squad despite their momentous unbeaten campaign.
Centre Tom Shiel, who is part of the starting XV in England’s first encounter against the full Portugal national side, expressed his pride at DURFC’s strong representation this year.
“It’s testament to the quality of the Durham side that 7 of last year’s ‘Invincibles’ have been selected,” he said.
“I’m delighted and cannot wait to represent my country.”
Second-rower Josh Beaumont and O’Toole will join Shiel in the starting line-up for the Portugal game in Lisbon, while Ward and Hallam have earned spots on the bench.
DURFC, meanwhile, have continued their dominant form in the BUCS leagues.
The first XV, in Premier North A, have continued their imperious form, securing eight wins from eight.
They also recently travelled to Cambridge and won 44-22, further underlining their status as the country’s best university rugby team.
The seconds are six points clear at the top of Premier North B, the thirds are second in their league, while the fourths are leading their division.