Success stories of sport stars from Gloucestershire in 2012
BEN MORGAN has been well known in local circles for a while, but he has become a household name for rugby fans all over the world after an incredible year.
The No 8, who grew up in Kingswood, declared his allegiance to England ahead of Wales at the start of the year and his meteoric rise from Dursley rugby club to the international scene was completed one week later when he was called up into Stuart Lancaster’s Six Nations squad.
What followed was the stuff of dreams. Morgan made his England debut as a replacement against Scotland at Murrayfield, helping them win the Calcutta Cup.
After impressing from the bench against Italy he made his first start against Wales at Twickenham, before producing barnstorming performances in the wins in France and at home to Ireland, where he was named man of the match, as England finished second.
In a bid to further his international hopes, Morgan left the Scarlets in the summer to join Gloucester, the club he supported as a boy.
Morgan recovered from injury to board the plane on England’s trip to South Africa in June, playing in the first two games of the three-game series which they lost 2-0.
After missing out on selection for the first two autumn internationals, Morgan was recalled to the England side for their narrow defeat against South Africa before helping them record an historic victory over world champions New Zealand at the start of December.
Morgan’s former Dursley youth and current Gloucester team-mate Charlie Sharples has also grown on the international scene this year.
He won his second cap against France in the Six Nations and played in two of the autumn internationals, scoring his first two tries for England against Fiji to keep his place against Australia.
Former England international Duncan Bell, who grew up in Hawkesbury, announced his retirement in April and the Bath prop also became one of the most high profile people in the sport to speak out about his battle with depression.
Another youngster to make his mark on the international scene this year was Wotton-under-Edge based runner Joe Dalgleish, who made his first appearance in an England vest for five years at the Smarno Goro International Mountain 10k in October and finished 19th. Dursley-based archer Kieran Slater continued his progress, representing Great Britain for the first time at under-21 level in May when the team narrowly missed out on bronze to Italy in Croatia, before making his senior debut at the European Grand Prix in Cyprus a month later.
Cam’s Jonty Gardner was selected for the England development squad in April.
Daisy Berkeley won the Intermediate Novice Class at the Gatcombe Horse Trials in March, while Berkeley duo Janet Macdonald and Jacqui Pillinger retained their British Indoor Horse Driving National Championship title in April.
Dursley rally driver David Stokes clinched the British Historic Tarmac Championships with a category two win in the Isle of Man in September.
Jack Reeves of Wotton-under-Edge was selected for the England Judo Development squad in October.
In golf, Berkeley-based Charlotte Heeps was named in an England youth squad for the first time, while George Irish, from Wotton, was named in Great Britain’s under-19 rifle team in November.