Bathford rugby player Ben Sparks tackles Fiji
Just days after England defeated Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday, Bath boy Ben Sparks was also lining up against the Pacific Islanders as he made his first appearnce for Gloucester in a hard-fought victory at Kingsholm.
The 22 year-old from Bathford was brought on with 10 minutes to play and helped his team close out an extremely tight encounter that saw Gloucester recover from an 18-0 defecit, to defeat the Fijians 31-29.
The Fiji team included 13 players from the squad that took on England over the weekend.
“It was a close game all the way through and they are a big heavy team” said Sparks, who is a former student of Corsham School and City of Bath College.
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“It felt really good to get on. It is deffinitely a different level to the National League and much faster, I really enjoyed it”.
Number eight Sparks is currently playing for part-time Cinderford in the National League 1 having moved there last Christmas. One of the main reasons the ex-Avonvale player signed up was because of the close ties the club have with Aviva Premiership side Gloucester and head coach Nigel Davies.
Davies has often utilised the club’s youth selecting academy players in many LV=Cup and Amlin Challange Cup games already this season. Products of Gloucester’s academy include England Saxons fly-half Freddie Burns and winger Charlie Sharples, who is currently impressing for the England senior team.
“Nigel Davies is renowned for getting younger players through and giving them time in the first team, so hopefully he can do that for me” said Sparks, who has also had opportunities to train with Gloucester’s academy team and get game time in the acadeny league.
Sparks trained with the first team last week after he was selected as a replacement for the LV=Cup loss to Ospreys on Friday and remained with the team in the build up to his apperance against Fiji.
He feels that the experience training with the likes of Mike Tindall and the rest of the first team will serve him well as he returns to play for Forest of Dean based club Cinderford.
“It’s a bit tricky to go into a team having to pick up all their moves quickly” he said. “But all the guys are really helpful and got me up to date. They give you tips and help you improve your game and become a better member of the team, which is the most important thing”.
Bath Rugby fan Sparks already has an extensive CV which shows steady progress through the ranks of English rugby. At 20 he first played in the National League 1 for Stourbridge while training with the Worcester Warriors Academy and also travelled to Australia to play for Sydney based team Eastern Suburbs.
Throughout that period he began to leave his mark on the national stage by captaining both the South West of England under-20s and the England Counties under-20s squad against Scotland in May 2011. Following that he was selected for the England Counties senior team and hopes to continue his development at both club and national level.
“My aim now is to get as much game time for Cinderford as I can and hopefully there will be a spot at Gloucester for me in the future” he said. “I want to get back to training full time as soon as possible, that’s when I play my best rugby”.