Stephenson wings home to Vallis Way
Local lad James Stephenson has headed home to where his rugby career began by signing on with Ealing Trailfinders for the coming Greene King IPA Championship season.
The 25-year-old wing used to play in the youth and mini’s section at Vallis Way and attended nearby St Benedict’s School with last season’s player of the year Arthur Ellis.
For the past two seasons he has played for Worcester Warriors, where he scored three tries in 16 appearances. While at Sixways he was capped for England 7s at the Wellington and Las Vegas tournaments and lined up alongside new teammates Sam Stanley and Callum Wilson.
“It is nice to back in London and back with some familiar faces and back at Ealing Trailfinders, ” Stephenson said.
“I want to get some game time as I didn’t play that much for Worcester last year and get the ball in my hands a little bit and try and find the form I had when I was with Bedford Blues in the Championship. That has got to be my motivation and to enjoy it a bit and enjoy my rugby.”
Stephenson’s big break came with Blackheath, who he played for while studying at St Mary’s College in Twickenham.
While at the Rectory Field Mike Friday converted him from a flanker to wing and it paid huge dividends as he ran in 30 tries in 47 appearances. From there he moved to Bedford Blues and scored 16 tries in 22 Championship appearances that earned him a contract with Worcester Warriors.
He has quickly adapted to life at Vallis Way, but is aware that with the likes of Wilson, Phil Chesters, Chris Kinloch, James Love, Luke Daniels and Rhys Crane in the squad competition for the two wing places will be fierce.
“Ealing Trailfinders have made some really good signings this year, ” he said. “Competition is what makes a good Greene King IPA Championship squad, so it is important to have that competitiveness and an environment where players are pushing each other.
“It is not about just surviving this year. From what I can see and what I’ve heard it is about pushing the top-end Championship sides. We don’t want to be overly ambitious, but we want to believe that we aren’t just here to fight it out at the bottom.”