Bedford Blues have been boosted by securing contract extensions for exciting young props Joe Wrafter and Henry Paul, who have featured regularly for the team in a turbulent season.
The front row duo both arrived at Goldington Road last summer and have quickly made their mark in Blues colours, registering a combined 29 appearances from the opening 15 matches of the campaign.
The re-signings of Wrafter and Paul join fellow Blues; Rich Lane, Matt Worley, Grayson Hart, Joe Atkinson, Dan Temm, Jordan Onojaife, Alex Penny and Sean McCarthy, who are on two-year contracts.
Commenting on the double re-signing, Director of Rugby, Mike Rayer said, “This is great news for the club that two such promising young front rowers are staying.
“They have both got an incredible thirst and desire to improve and grow as players and more importantly they are both great characters to have around the group.”
Paul, 23, earnt the opportunity of playing in the Championship for the first time following a superb 2018/19 campaign with Esher in National League One.
The tighthead prop has started 11 of his 15 Blues appearances, becoming an ever present in the match day squad.
On agreeing to stay on, Paul added, “It’s been a test stepping up from National One, but the reason we all play is to test ourselves and I’m enjoying the challenge of playing regular rugby in the Championship.
“The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve understood the importance Bedford Blues has within the local community. It’s a club with great history and to be able to put my name in there and add something is special.
“There’s quite a few experienced players here so I’ve learnt a lot, Alex Penny has helped me with stuff and those little extra bits go a long way in improving your overall game.”
Wrafter, also 23, secured his move to the Blues following an impressive stint with Birmingham Moseley, making 47 appearances over a two-year spell.
Starting out in the Worcester Warriors Academy, Wrafter has also featured for Clifton and Hartpury, picking up international representative honours with England Counties.
The loosehead prop has featured in 14 matches this campaign, missing just one Championship Cup fixture through injury, and has pushed skipper Sean McCarthy for selection each week.
On confirming the contract extension, Wrafter said, “The primary reason why I chose to stay at Bedford was there’s some really good people at the club. It’s humbling all the support we get every week and hopefully that continues.
“It’s a good place for me to be, I feel like I can push myself playing in the Championship and it’s a great environment to be involved with.
“Sean (McCarthy) is a great guy to pick up little details from and learning from people like him is what’s going to improve me as a player.
“The last two victories against Scottish and Hartpury were really good, the work we’ve put in during training is paying dividends at the moment. We’re on a bit of a roll so hopefully that continues.”
Words by Ryan Robinson