- Leeds trio Boyce, Walker and Hill line-up for England Under 18s
- The challenge for them now is to keep progressing – Andy Rock
Photo: Tania Richards
When a player takes off his school or club shirt and pulls on the colours of his country, there is perhaps no better vindication of the strength of that school or clubs rugby programme.
But when three of them line up in the front row together it carries far greater connotations - 'those boys must come from tough stock,' is usually the response from the touchlines to such an occurrence.
It is an event that can be as rare an eclipse, but that is precisely what happened for three boys from Prince Henry’s Grammar School and Leeds Carnegie, as Lewis Boyce, Jack Walker and Paul Hill helped England Under 18s to a 23-3 win against Australia Schools last week.
The trio produced a dominant display in the set piece to help England on their way to a memorable win, and left the head of the AASE rugby programme at Prince Henry’s, Andy Rock, brimming with pride.
He said:”It was certainly something as a school that made us very proud. Paul [Hill] only just left us, but the other two are still with us and it was great to see them all come through together.
The challenge is to keep moving forward – Andy Rock
“The challenge for them now is to keep progressing beyond Prince Henry’s and England Under 18s over the next three, four, five years. Our job is to help develop them so that they are able to do that.
“Personally, I was pleased with the way they played. I’m sure they’ve identified areas they’d like to work on, but I thought the scrum was strong, and they made their contributions in the loose.”
One of the gnarly trio is 17-year-old hooker Jack Walker, who recently made his first team debut for Leeds Carnegie against Gala in the British & Irish cup.
It is a rare feat for a front row player to play senior rugby at such a tender age, but it came as no great shock to Rock.
Photo: Tania Richards
He added: ”It wasn’t a surprise to me when Jack made his debut for Leeds given his ability with ball and hand and his distribution. The challenge now for Jack and the other two, is to keep moving forward to higher honours.”
The Gala match was proud day all round for the Walker family who were able to celebrate two brothers pulling on the Leeds Carnegie jersey together, as brother, and former England Under 18 and Under 20 captain Chris came off the bench.
Unsurprisingly for a hooker, no challenge seems to faze Jack, who carries the temperament of a grizzled veteran and the boundless energy of a centre.
He said:“It was tough, but it was a special day for me as I was able to play alongside my brother Chris for the first time. So it was a fantastic day for both myself and the family.
“Every game brings its own challenge. Age group games can sometimes be a bit quicker, but at first team level everything was heavier: scrums, tackles, everything. But I really enjoyed it.
On playing alongside his Prince Henry’s team mates for England u18 he added:“I guess playing for England in itself is an honour, but to play alongside mates, guys that I’ve played with at Leeds and Prince Henry’s was just an absolute dream.
“I think we scrummed quite well together for the 60 minutes we were on, and to have done it beside each other, we all came off happy.
“I wouldn’t say we have any calls or whatever amongst ourselves, but we just understand each other very well, we know what lines we like to run and where to be.”