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Keighley teenager picked for World Cup squad
Oakbank School pupil Taylor Stott has been selected to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the Tag Rugby World Cup.
The 15-year-old will be the youngest member of the squad for the event in New Zealand, which takes place from December 6-9.
Taylor, who is on a scholarship with Keighley Cougars, is relishing the trip to Auckland to pits his wits against international competition.
He said: “It should be a great experience and I’m proud to have been selected to represent my country.
“I went for trials in London back in May and was picked from about 150. I was quite surprised and I will be the youngest by seven years in the squad.”
Tag Rugby is a minimal contact game, with the emphasis on ball-handling skills.
Defenders attempt to stop attackers by tagging – pulling a velcro-attached tag from the ball carrier. Seven players in each team are allowed on the field at a time, while the field dimensions are 70 metres by 50 metres.
The game has gained popularity in London and Taylor has taken part in several festivals around the capital in preparation for the World Cup.
But it has also become established in the Bradford district in recent years. Taylor has played for Queensbury Mad Taggers for the last two years.
The teenage stand-off or scrum half is aiming to establish himself in the Cougars’ youth set-up and has been training with the under-19s.
And he hopes that playing tag rugby can help him develop his rugby league skills.
He said: “Tag rugby makes you think a lot harder as you don’t have as much time.
“You have to be really quick with your decision making.”
Australia and New Zealand are likely to be among the favourites for the World Cup, with teams from the Cook Islands, Lebanon, Malta, Samoa and Tonga also set to take part.
Taylor – whose dad Mark, a player for Keighley Rugby Union third team, introduced him to tag rugby – admits he is unsure how Great Britain and Ireland will get on as the game remains low profile in comparison to Down Under.
He said: “In New Zealand and Australia, they have been touring round the country to stage trials while we just had them in London.”
Having first begun playing rugby league before the age of six, Taylor is now in his third year on Cougars’ scholarship programme.
He also played for Keighley Cougar Cubs and Dudley Hill, and has been captain of his year’s rugby team at Oakbank for the last four years. He is now helping to coach younger age-group teams after school.
Keighley-based firm DM Print are helping to fund Taylor’s trip by holding a raffle, with the top prize being a two-week holiday in Spain. Tickets cost £1 and the closing date is December 1. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.