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October 29, 2003


From: Plymouth Evening Herald, UK - Oct 29, 2003


Plymouth's promising young rugby star Clint Reilly enjoyed his experience of travelling as part of the national squad despite his youth preventing him from taking part in an inaugural fixture in France. Reilly had travelled with the England Deaf Rugby Union squad to the Paris suburbs and was to start as hooker in his country's first full international against their French counterparts.

But an age restriction meant that the Eggbuckland Community College student, who was the youngest member of the 22-man squad, had to settle for a place on the replacements' bench instead.

Reilly is only 17 years old but the England coaching staff, believing he was older, had pencilled the Plymothian in to start the match at Montargis.

However, the minimum age requirement for front row players is 18, so a frustrated but philosophical Reilly was forced to sit out the clash, which England lost 16-3.

Reilly normally plays flanker for City of Plymouth, but because he is tad shorter than the rest of the national forwards, he was chosen to play in the vital hooker's position.

Nevertheless, Reilly has been promised by the national coaches that he will definitely play in the next international, hopefully against Wales next month.

"They only discovered I was 17 on the day of the match and that I wouldn't be eligible to play.

"Like me, they were gutted," explained Reilly, whose next birthday is not until August 2004.

"It was disappointing, but I was able to learn a lot from the experience as a whole, and also by watching the match. We were all given medals, though, and the French gave us a trophy as a memento of the match being the first-ever international played between the hearing-impaired sides.

"And they said that I will definitely be playing in the next England game, which could be in the middle of November in Cardiff against Wales," he added.

Reilly trains most weekends with the England side at their headquarters in Castlecroft, near Wolverhampton, and is grateful to parents, Jackie and Richard, who tackle the long round trip to Staffordshire.

"I owe mum and dad a big thank you as it is a long way," he said.

Almost as disappointing as not playing for the city youngester was the gastronomic delights, or the lack of them, on offer for the team.

"No, they let us down on that front," groaned Reilly.

"They made us wait for ages and then when it did turn up, we didn't like it.

"So we ended up going to McDonald's," he laughed.

© Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.