Raffi Quirke set to become second St Ambrose College old boy to make England debut in a week

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Raffi Quirke looks set to follow Mark Atkinson in becoming the second St Ambrose College old boy to make their England rugby debut in a week.

Quirke has been included in the squad to face Australia in the Autumn international at Twickenham tomorrow, while Atkinson came off the bench against Tonga to make his debut last weekend.

Scrum-half Quirke was a regular part of the England under-16 and Under-18 set-up but his progression to the England squad has been accelerated by his form for Sale Sharks this season.

His stand-out performance in the red and blue colours of St Ambrose was in the under-13 Cheshire Cup final when he scored two tries on the way to lifting the trophy.

Atkinson has enjoyed a fine career to date, including spells at Wasps and Saracens, and was capped by England at under-18 level. He has since become a stalwart at Gloucester.

Raffi Quirke during his St Ambrose days

Mike Fitzsimon, the Hale Barns school’s Head of PE, taught and coached both Atkinson and Quirke and describes how they are both “role models”, with Quirke still involved with the school through helping coach younger year groups.

He said: “As a school we are exceptionally proud of both Mark and Raffi. For Mark, it has been a little bit of a wait but we always thought he would get the call at some stage but as with Raffi, the talent was always there for all to see.

“From early on, both players stood out. Raffi was an all-rounder having been involved with triathlons and benefitted having attended the school on our new site with all the fantastic sports facilities available.

Mark Atkinson during his school days

“It is also pleasing that both players stayed on in to the Sixth Form when some might think that there is a stronger chance of a pathway to the international set-up via other colleges.

“They are wonderful role models for our current students and with the under-16 team having reached the Cheshire Cup final only yesterday, we are hopeful that there are many more international players to come through in the future.”

Dermot Rainey, Principal of St Ambrose College, added: “It has been a very exciting week for the whole community and I would also like to pay tribute to the sports staff for their roles in helping both Mark and Raffi on their way to such an outstanding achievement.”

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