- Former boxer Lewis Boyce ready for Welsh challenge
- We’ll have to come out of the blocks firing – Boyce
Photo: Tania Richards
A career in boxing could well have been a career path for Middlesbrough born prop Lewis Boyce, but fortunately rugby was on the undercard and he’s already forging a strong reputation for himself in the game.
During the RBS 6 Nations he helped make up the numbers for the England Senior side when they trained against Loughborough University at St. George's Park in Burton, something that has certainly whet his appetite.
“You can see the path to Seniors – it’s a tough path, but you can see it," he said. "I really admire the likes of Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola – they’ve been in the same position I’m in now and they’re doing really well at Senior level.”
England U18 are currently hoping to defend their FIRA/AER European Championship title in Poznan, Poland, and face Wales in the semi final of the competition.
Boyce has been a mainstay in Head Coach John Fletcher’s side since last season, and the talented loosehead is excited about taking them on.
He said: “We played well against Portugal in the opening game – we knew that they would come at us and they were very physical. Wales will be another huge challenge, but we’re ready for them. We’ll have to come out of the blocks firing all cylinders, but if we perform as well as we can then I know we’ll do well.”
Photo: Tania Richards
Boyce’s rugby journey has taken him from Teeside to Leeds Carnegie where he now studies at AASE College Prince Henry’s Grammar School, and after stints at No. 8 and centre, he eventually settled on the front row where he feels most at home.
“I started playing rugby when I was about 12 at Macmillan Academy and my P.E teacher Mr. Richardson asked me to play," he explained. "I wasn’t all that keen to start with but he told me that it would get me out of school, so I gave it a go and loved it.
“I tried a couple of other positions but I enjoy the front row, and working alongside [RFU front row coach] Ian Peel with England has developed my game massively.
"Peely has been their since the Under 15 skill clinics in Leeds – he’s always giving me hints and tips, and basically just wants to improve me as a player, which is great."
As well as fulfilling his Under 18s duties, Peel is also Forwards Coach for the England Under 20s – and that connection to the next tier up isn’t lost on Boyce: "To see the likes of Paul Hill and Jack Walker, front row teammates at Leeds, go on and play for the Under 20s has been massive. They’re good mates and it’s great to see them more than holding their own at that higher level – playing with them has definitely brought my game on.”
While Leeds is certainly Boyce’s adopted home – he makes an effort to head back to Middlesbrough when he can, not least for his favourite meal.
“I try to get back home as often as I can, mainly to get some of my Nanna’s lasagna – it’s great stuff," he enthused. "But it’s always nice to head back and see everyone. Rugby’s not massive in the 'Boro and when I was growing up I was really into boxing and UFC but rugby’s what I enjoyed most so I stuck at in.
“Saying that, I got quite good with the skipping rope and I’m not sure how many other props can say that!”