|Weight||109kg (17st 2lb)|
Charisma has long been among Phil Dowson's attributes with longevity for England Saxons, dating back to the 2005 Churchill Cup, another part of the equation that has led to seven Test caps. Winning the Northampton Saints' Player of the Month award in December 2009 illustrated the immediate impact he made after signing from Newcastle Falcons that summer.
Such was his ongoing success that he was switched from the 2010 Saxons' Churchill Cup party to the England squad for the senior tour to Australasia as a replacement for the injured Hendre Fourie.
He played off the bench in the 15-9 win over Australian Barbarians at Gosford and his starting debut was at No. 8 in the non-cap game against New Zealand Maori at Napier in the tour finale that brought a 35-28 defeat after a thrilling 80 minutes. Twenty months on in February 2012, he made the first of his international appearances, starting in the 13-6 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield. His most recent exploits were playing off the bench in the first and third Tests against South Africa in June last year.
Guildford-born Phil had already captained the Saxons in their triumphant 2007 Churchill Cup campaign and led the Falcons but has added a new dimension to his game. He made a record-breaking 13th appearance for the Saxons in the 31-5 win over Italy A at Treviso in early February 2010.
His formative years were as a mini at Wigton, a Cumbrian club, but his schooldays at Sedbergh shaped his rugby future and selection for the England School 16 Group A team pointed to his potential.
He joined the Falcons Academy in 2001-02, made his Premiership debut against Gloucester in November 2001 and of his 184 appearances in the competition by the end of last season 96 were for Newcastle with 24 tries overall.
Phil rocketed into the England Sevens squad, helped them to win the 2005 World Cup in Hong Kong and led the Saxons in the ten-try, 66-0 romp against Portugal at Stockport in January 2009 and twice in the subsequent Churchill Cup.
His other exploits include notching a try in four consecutive matches against Benetton Treviso, Worcester Warriors, London Irish and Perpignan bridging the end of 2009 into mid-January 2010. He had also been a try-scorer on his Saints debut against the Warriors at Franklin’s Gardens. In January 2011, he was drafted into the England Elite Player Squad preparing for the RBS 6 Nations Championship as a replacement for the injured Lewis Moody, of Bath Rugby.
His kudos goes on. Phil won the Gatorade Game Changer award for December 2011 with his performance for the Saints against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road being the standout display in 14 Aviva Premiership games that month – the victor being determined by official Premiership Rugby data provided by Opta.
Paul McKinnon should take a bow. He was the Falcons' Academy director when Phil was an emerging player. Paul's persistence and persuasive powers guided him into fashioning a rugby future, rather than a career in business that he had already begun when working for a year in the corporate recovery office of a Leeds-based accountants. It was definitely rugby’s gain.
2012 S, It, W(R), F(R), I(R), SA (1R, 3R)
Last updated: July 8, 2013