Guernsey Press

Guernsey youngster Kent getting academy opportunity with Bristol Bears

It is a city which has become synonymous with Guernsey’s brightest football talent in recent years, but Bristol is now also playing host to a Sarnian rugby starlet hoping to make it pro.

Guernsey Rugby Academy colt Fraser Kent has joined the Bristol Bears Academy and has turned out for their U17s and U18s. (Picture supplied, 32991763)

Having come through the island’s youth system before moving away last summer to combine rugby with education at Taunton School, 17-year-old Fraser Kent has recently joined up with the Bristol Bears Academy and is featuring for the Premiership club’s under-18 side.

‘It was quite surreal the first time I went there,’ said the young front row.

‘We train at Bristol Grammar School and at the Bears High Performance Centre, which is absolutely awesome. It is where all the first team train. So we go there and get this really high quality training.’

It is fair to say Kent’s rugby has blossomed in recent years, but it was not love at first sight.

‘I think I was five or six when I first started coming down on a Sunday and, funnily enough, I wasn’t a huge fan at first because obviously it’s all touch or tag when you first start. And I was desperate to just go and hit something.

‘But every weekend I’d complain about going and then my mum would say, “oh, just try this week” and I’d come back and absolutely love it. So I stuck at it and I kept going.’

His perseverance is paying off.

Kent’s Bristol opportunity has come off the back of several trials and camps, including with his county, Harlequins, and the Scottish Exiles, as well as lots of determination from within.

‘When he was in the under-15s he took himself away and was doing a lot of work on his own and with his close friends,’ said Steve Melbourne, Guernsey’s rugby development officer.

‘He couldn’t do a single pull up, and then by the end of the summer he was smashing out five. His body changed, there was a morphing of this individual. Then when you watched his rugby, it changed completely too.

‘He’s moved from No 8 to front row at Bristol, and now at 6ft 2in, and around 110kg, for an under-18 in the Bristol Academy, he’s the right size,’ he said.

Last weekend Kent was included in the Bears U18 squad to face Exeter Chiefs, another occasion which can only have fired his professional ambitions, which, while still some way off, are the ultimate goal.

‘That’s obviously the dream. That would be so awesome but for now I’m taking it as it comes, still trying to train well, but also studies are very important because it’s less than one per cent that make it obviously.

‘So I’m still being a student athlete at the moment and doing what I can at training but also trying hard in school and getting the grades I need to get into a good university.’

For now that dual focus will occupy most of Kent’s time, but he is still hoping to feature for his home island in another Siam contest with Jersey.

‘Everyone still gets really excited about it now. I’m really looking forward, if I can, to come back and play the Siam with the Colts this year.

‘I still remember winning the Siam in under-nines. I think that’s the only time my age group ever won it. But it’s the kind of thing like that sticks with you.’