Rugby

Tamar Saracens duo will play at Twickenham on Sunday for Grassroots Barbarians

TAMAR Saracens players Marc Cioffi and Josh Heath will fulfil a dream this weekend when they run out at Twickenham for the NatWest Grassroots Barbarians.

Cioffi and Heath will play for the Southern Grassroots Barbarians XV against the Northern Barbarians XV on Sunday at the home of English rugby.

They have got their chance after Sarries were selected as one of 40 lower league clubs around the country invited to nominate two players after applying for the NatWest RugbyForce weekend.

Part of this year’s NatWest RugbyForce application process included entry into a draw for the chance to have players feature at Twickenham.

“I put the NatWest application in a few months ago and through that we got put into the hat for two of our players to represent the Grassroots Barbarians,” said Tamar Saracens new chairman Dan Leeson.

“But it really came out of the blue. I didn’t give it a thought that we would get selected. We have been involved with the NatWest RugbyForce now for a few seasons and nothing like this has come from it.

“We had to nominate the players based on positions. They wanted a second-row and a back-row of us. Second-row for us was Marc Cioffi as he has been brilliant for us this season and he is a proper clubman through and through. That was a bit of a no-brainer really and then young flanker Josh Heath has had an outstanding season on the pitch for us.

“We had backs asking why they hadn’t been picked, but they specifically asked for positions.”

Both players had to attend a training day in Leicester two weeks ago with World Cup winner Will Greenwood and England forwards coach Steve Borthwick.

“The nerves were ridiculous knowing I was going to be standing in front of Will Greenwood and Steve Borthwick and then to be coached by them,” admitted Cioffi. “All the way to Leicester I was nervous.”

Cioffi expects he will be just as nervous on Sunday when he heads to Twickenham for the first time in his life.

“This will literally be my first outing to Twickenham,” he said. “I’ve seen it on the TV, but I’ve never got around to getting up there, mainly because the majority of games are when we are also playing.

“I am absolutely buzzing about playing there, but I am really nervous at the same time.”

He added:  “I have only been playing seven years and so I am overwhelmed for the rugby club to give me an opportunity like this.

“I’m going up with Josh Heath and he’s a phenomenal player. I am just hoping I can do the club badge proud just as much as he will.

“I am really, really looking forward to it. All the promo stuff that has come out I seem to feature in. I’ve been in the paper, in the video and on photos coming out and I am completely overwhelmed by it all.

“Everything from the day is going to get framed. I might even have to retire afterwards as I don’t think it will ever get better than this!”

However, Cioffi nearly didn’t make the team as he is getting married this month and the recent training day clashed with some important wedding arrangements.

“Initially we had a lot of wedding plans on the weekend of the training day in Leicester, like a photoshoot and other stuff,” said Cioffi. “But we managed to re-organise and I was able to go, as they had said that if you didn’t go to the training session you couldn’t play.”

Cioffi is just hoping he doesn’t get injured this weekend ahead of his wedding.

“I will wear a head-guard to protect the face a little bit,” he said. “It is already ruined but I don’t want to make it worse for the wedding day!”

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