FORMER Rotherham Titans player Jonathan Pendlebury cast his mind back to his days at Clifton Lane this week after being named England U18s head coach.
Pendlebury will join the RFU in mid January, tasked with helping nurture and develop the country's top young talent.
Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Jonathan hailed the "fantastic" news but also remembered his rugby roots.
A former pupil at Swinton Comprehensive School, he played for Wath as a junior before joining Rotherham.
The lock's spell at Clifton Lane took in the club's second spell in the Premiership and he also represented the club in European competition.
His appointment follows two-and-a-half seasons as Academy Manager with Premiership club Wasps and, before that, in a similar role at Yorkshire Carnegie.
But it was back in South Yorkshire that Pendlebury cut his rugby teeth.
He said: "I enjoyed doing the community stuff when I was a young lad at Rotherham. Brian Chappell was heavily involved in a lot of that. We used to do school visits every Wednesday.
"When I went to Carnegie, they had a pretty good, albeit under-resourced community programme. I had two lengthy injuries so I put my hand to do something. I got out as regularly as I could with them.
"My contract there was signed as a player and volunteer coach for the Academy so I worked up and did some good stuff and got the opportunity to be a full-time employee on the Academy side."
Jonathan Pendlebury in his playing days.
At Wasps, Pendlebury has helped bring youngsters through and three of its prospects, full-back Tom Bacon, prop Zac Nearchou and wing Jude Williams, are currently at Rotherham on dual registration contracts.
"Rotherham is my home club and my first senior club," he said. "The three lads there this season all have England U20s potential. That's not just exciting for Wasps, hopefully Rotherham can turn around and say they have played a part in their aspirations to play England U20s."
Wasps player Tom Bacon in action for Rotherham.
In his new role Pendlebury will work with the top players in the 14 regional Academies and liaise with England senior team manager Richard Hill on talent ID.
"It is fantastic news for me and for my family. I am really pleased and excited to get started once I have worked my notice period at Wasps," he said.
"The worst thing is that I am not moving back home to Yorkshire. I am staying where I am in the Midlands because it is better for the motorways!
“My passion is working with young players with potential and trying to put some support an infastructure around them that allows them to reach it."
Brian Chappell said he was delighted to see Jonathan getting the chance to make his mark at England level.
"I'm chuffed for him and for Rotherham," said Brian. "It is a great coup for Jonathan."
* Rotherham Titans aim to post a much-needed win when they make the trip to Bishop's Stortford tomorrow. Just six points separate the two teams in National One Kick-off is 3pm. Check out today's Advertiser for full Titans coverage, including a review of the season so far.
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