Shropshire Star

Shropshire student seals a switch to rugby giants Toulouse

A Shropshire student is heading to top French rugby club Toulouse after securing a place with the squad.


William Phillips has been on an extended trial with Toulouse over the last two years, utilising his school holidays to train in France, and has now secured a place with the Espoirs squad.

The 18-year-old joined Ellesmere College Rugby Academy for sixth form and has been the captain of the school team this year – he will leave to move to France in August.

“I have always wanted to play at a high level, but never really thought I could take it to the point of Toulouse. It is a bit of a dream, it is pretty awesome,” said Phillips, who is from , from St Davids in Pembrokeshire.

“I can’t wait to live in a different culture and the people have been great out there each time I’ve been, the food is not too bad either!

“I am going to just make the most of it and see how far I can take it, I will develop myself and learn from the best. I couldn’t think of any better place to try and chase the dream of going pro.

“After this initial year, I hope to have a couple more years at Toulouse and perhaps one day play for my country but one step at a time, I will try to put some performances in and see what comes.”

Phillips, who predominantly plays fly-half but will try different positions while at Toulouse, found out the good news as he was studying for his BTEC in sport and revising for upcoming exams.

And it is a family affair as he has already followed in the footsteps of his grandad, who captained the first team at Ellesmere College many years ago.

Before moving to Ellesmere, Will attended Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi and played for Scarlets.

His former PE teacher Bruce Evans encouraged him to attend a summer camp in France in 2022 – and it was from there he got spotted and invited to train with Toulouse.

“It was a complete surprise, I had no idea there would be anyone from Toulouse there,” Phillips added. “I’ve been pretty lucky. Going to Ellesmere to board with the great facilities was always a bit of a dream too, that helped me to get a place with the Sale Sharks Academy which gave me a nice platform to play off.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family and people like Bruce Evans and the Ellesmere coaches like Alex Murphy and Hamish Luckas. I am very thankful and really looking forward to this next step.”

Hamish Luckas, PE teacher at Ellesmere College, said: “A huge congratulations to Will, his hard work and dedication has really paid off. He has always been dedicated to both his rugby and his school work while at Ellesmere and he managed to fit in training in France very well as well. He gives 100 per cent to anything he does and it is no surprise to me at all that he has managed to secure a place at Toulouse.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for him and we hope it will be a catapult for his career – Toulouse are widely regarded as one the best clubs in the world and include world-renowned players such as Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack in their squad.

“We look forward to seeing Will’s name mentioned alongside these greats in the years to come.”