- Rory Teague will captain the England Counties against Ireland and France
- Never having won in Ireland is extra motivation – Teague
Photo: Helen Watson
Teague is a well-known name in rugby circles and today will see another achievement for the family, as Rory Teague is named captain for the England Counties squad seeking to secure a first Counties victory on Irish soil.
The Blackheath fly half, related to British and Irish Lion Mike Teague, brings experience to the role, having represented England at U18, U19 and Students level, as well as playing for the Counties during their ground breaking 2012 summer tour to East Africa.
Teague, aged 27, will lead the side in two challenging fixtures against Ireland Club XV (February 8, Cork) and France Amateurs (February 22, Ealing Trailfinders).
“It is a great honour to represent your country at any level in any sport and it is a big achievement for all the players who have been selected,” said Teague. “To be part of the Counties legacy is something that I will cherish when my playing days are over.”
“I was ecstatic to get the call as captain. It is an honour to play for the England Counties but an even bigger honour to captain them. Hopefully we can do everyone proud as a team - it is not about individuals, it is about everyone pulling together for what will be two very tough matches.”
'There is a great feeling surrounding England Rugby'
The England Counties is formed of players from National 1 and 2 with 13 clubs represented in the current squad. The side will meet for the first time on Wednesday February 6 ahead of their first fixture on the Friday night.
“You are playing with some of the best players in the league,” said Teague. “They have been selected on merit and everyone wants to step up their game to put in a performance worthy of wearing the England shirt. We are now half way through the season so I’ve played against the guys and they’ve all stood out in those matches. It is a strong squad.
“Never having won in Ireland is extra motivation and will add to the hype of the week. There will be a phenomenal atmosphere in Cork, we know how passionate the Irish are about their rugby. We are already preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the intensity of international rugby. Our aim is to get to know each other and create our own team culture as quickly as possible.
“The England Counties tour to East Africa last June was an incredible experience. The tour and the results on the field, as well as the community involvement off it, were a credit to Michael Old, our Team Manager and coaches, Jan Bonney and Steve Pope. Looking ahead to the forthcoming matches, you can guarantee that the management will have the squad in a good place and then it will be up to us as players to put in a performance which will make us, our clubs, families and nation proud.”
Photo: RFU Archive
The fixtures mirror the England Senior schedule with the Counties matches on the Friday evening of the Ireland and France weekends.
“It is definitely on your mind that you are part of a bigger picture,” acknowledges Teague. “There is a great feeling surrounding England Rugby after the win against New Zealand. For all supporters that was a special day.
“To be part of an England team during an exciting period for the sport in this country is a real privilege. We want to make sure that we contribute to the positive direction of England Rugby. The environment Stuart Lancaster has created within the senior team has had an impact at all levels of the game and is something we can learn from and draw upon as a squad.”
Teague’s grandfather Colin played for Gloucester, as did Mike and Rory is his early career but it is Mike’s achievements on the international stage which have been inspirational.
“Mike’s representative honours and career speak for themselves,” said Teague. “I really look up to him and admire what he achieved, especially knowing that it is not easy to accomplish what he did, particularly in the amateur days.”
Since the start of his career at Gloucester in 2003, Teague has played for Tarbes Pyrenees Rugby, FC Grenoble and Cinderford RFC where he was the league top points scorer in 2011/12. Now at Blackheath Teague combines playing with coaching and works with rugby scholarship students at Harrow School, mentors at London Wasps Academy in a kicking capacity and supports rugby development in schools in Lewisham.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is play and work in rugby,” said Teague. “I enjoy the diversity in the roles I have, from coaching in schools with a strong rugby heritage to ones which are new to the sport. There is some real talent out there and it helps being able to relate to the young players going through a similar process to the one I went through.
“For some of the guys in Lewisham, the contact element is a release for them, many have never played rugby before but have real potential and introducing them to rugby’s values and discipline is very rewarding.”
England Counties Squad to play Ireland Club XV in the Ulster Bank International:
Forwards: Dave Allen*^ (Blackheath); David Dickinson*^ (Tynedale); Tom Fidler (Cambridge); Mark George (Stourbridge); Matt Hall*^ (Blaydon); James Inglis (Esher); Billy Johnson* (Old Albanian); Robbie Kalbraier*^ (Blaydon); Sam Shires*^ (Ealing); Ollie Stedman (Tynedale); Will Warden (Richmond); Ben West (Cinderford)
Backs: Jack Adams (Cinderford); Lewis Barker (Coventry); Scott Barrow (Fylde); Nev Edwards (Rosslyn Park); Chris Elder (Esher); Matt Heeks (Rosslyn Park); Peter Hodgkinson*^ (Ealing); Will Hurrell (Stourbridge); Ollie Marchon (Old Albanian); Rory Teague* (Blackheath)
*Previous ECXV cap (8 players) ^played v Ireland at Preston 2012 (6 players)
Tynedale prop, David Dickinson comes into the squad in place of Alex Loney (Fylde) who misses out due to injury.
England Counties Spring International Fixtures:
England Counties v Ireland Club XV (Friday, February 8) Cork, Ireland
England Counties v France Amateurs (Friday, February 22), Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club