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Ayoola Erinle

Ayoola Erinle

Key Facts

SquadBiarritz Olympique
Height1.9m (6'3")
Weight110kg (17st 4lb)


A powerful break-maker, Ayoola Erinle was an unlikely convert to rugby which makes his achievements all the more eye-catching.

He was a Biarritz newcomer this season from Leicester Tigers and won selection in the England match squad for the Australia game in the 2009 Investec Challenge Series after Mike Tindall sustained a hamstring injury when playing for Gloucester Rugby eight days before the Test.

Before moving to France, Ayoola made 101 Guinness Premiership appearances and scored 25 tries in seven seasons for London Wasps and Leicester. He had come to the UK with his family from Nigeria when 18 months old and lived in Middlesbrough and Glasgow before settling in Reading where he first played rugby at the Oratory School.

Ayoola, whose forename means ‘Joy of Wealth’, said: “Rugby was compulsory at school but I tried to get out of it. I’d never done anything like that kind of contact before but something suddenly clicked and literally overnight I began to enjoy it. I was a big lad and quite quick and that helped to get me noticed.”

Since then rugby has enthused the whole Ayoola family. By the time he was 12, he had switched from the front row to the back row and then to centre. He joined Reading RFC and when 19 played for England Students in the World Cup in Italy and also for England Sevens in Durban and Dubai where he was joint leading try-scorer.

Adrian Thompson, the former England Sevens coach, recommended Ayoola to Rob Smith at Wasps and he joined the club in 2000. His five-year career there took time to develop. It included a loan spell with Henley Hawks before his Wasps’ debut came against Gloucester in 2003.

Winding forward, he became a member of the England Saxons squad that won the 2007 Churchill Cup at Twickenham.

An active churchgoer, Ayoola also embarked on a four-year pharmacy course at King’s College, London but that has been put on hold. He appeared three times on Channel 4’s Countdown show –  another of his many facets.

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