Four more homegrown youngsters have been promoted to the Three Pears Warriors Academy.
Lock Cheick Kone, hooker Finn Theobald-Thomas, scrum-half Tom Miles and wing/full-back Tobi Wilson, will now become members of the Senior Academy at Sixways.
Kone has progressed from Warriors’ Diploma in Sporting Excellence programme at Stourport HS & Sixth Form College and club rugby at Wolverhampton into the Senior Academy at Sixways but his route into rugby has been anything but conventional.
He was born and raised in the Ivory Coast, spent time in Bologna in Italy before his family re-located to Wolverhampton.
Kone took up rugby only two years ago when Matt Jones, Warriors’ Academy Outreach Coach, spotted him as part of the Project Rugby programme.
Project Rugby is an initiative between Premiership Rugby and England Rugby to increase participation in rugby by people from traditionally under-represented groups – including BAME (Black Asian & Minority Ethnic people).
Thanks to the work of Warriors Community Foundation – the club’s charity arm – Jones has been able to carry out ground-breaking work in introducing rugby to inner city areas in Wolverhampton and the Black Country where the sport is rarely played.
Kone is the first player in England to progress from Project Rugby to the Senior Academy of a Gallagher Premiership club.
Theobald-Thomas has followed a similar route to Kone – the DiSE programme at Stourport HS & Sixth Form College and Wolverhampton RFC – into the Senior Academy.
He played in the back-row for Warriors Under-18s last season but has moved to his more familiar position at hooker for their recent matches this season.
Miles, who has been included in this season’s England Under-18s Development training squad, is a student at King Henry VIII School in Coventry and plays his club rugby for Kenilworth.
He was a member of the Warriors’ squad that finished third in last season’s Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy League.
Miles is due to go to university in the autumn and will train with Warriors during university holidays and his rugby development at university will also be monitored.
Wilson, who is also a member of Warriors’ Diploma in Sporting Excellence programme at Stourport HS & Sixth Form College, plays his club rugby for Newport in Shropshire.
He is also a member of this season’s England Under-18s Development training squad and was a regular in Warriors’ successful Under-18s side last season.