|Weight||100kg (15st 10lb)|
Whenever Billy Twelvetrees, a Gloucester newcomer from Leicester Tigers last season, makes his debut for a team, the impression is as striking as his unusual surname. This was reinforced by a stunning try on his first England appearance in the 38-18 Calcutta Cup win over Scotland at Twickenham in February 2013.
Billy made one of England’s four touchdowns in the 32-3 win over Argentina at Salta last June and added another against the Pumas at Twickenham five months later. He made his eighth consecutive start against Italy in March when winning his 13th Test cap, having made 12 carries in the previous home match against Ireland that, along with Jonny May’s 12, was the most by any England player in the game.
He was enlisted last summer for the British & Irish Lions tour party in Australia as cover and made his debut in the starting side alongside Brad Barritt at centre in the match against the Brumbies at Canberra.
Billy did not figure in a national age group representative side and was a newcomer to the England Saxons 2010-11 squad, having made only 11 Aviva Premiership appearances, a total he had expanded to 60, with 267 points, by mid-March this year.
On his third start for the Saxons, he not only scored his maiden try, one of England’s 13 in the opening Churchill Cup game against the USA at Northampton in June 2011, but was also man of the match. Eight days later, he gathered at pace a right-footed grubber kick by Jordan Crane for his second try in the 41-14 win over Tonga at Kingsholm. By then, he had appeared in 15 Premiership games for Leicester Tigers, scored 85 points and also proved his worth as a more than useful goal-kicker.
His first game for the Tigers testified to his temperament with a man of the match performance that included 14 points in the 32-32 Heineken Cup draw with the Ospreys in October 2009. Billy was told he was starting at inside centre only ten minutes before kick-off when Dan Hipkiss withdrew through illness. No nerves there, then. He said: “It was my most memorable game while with Leicester.”
Rewinding the clock further, he produced a four-try display when first appearing for Bedford Blues against Manchester in 2008-09, the season when his 18 tries made him joint leading scorer in the Championship with Nottingham’s David Jackson.
Moving on, Billy kicked a penalty from halfway among the five he landed during his first appearance against a senior national side, an Australia XV, at Welford Road in his team’s 26-15 defeat in November 2010.
Ten days later, he extended his sequence of successful place kicks for Tigers to 16 with six penalties and more “man of the match” kudos in the 18-13 Premiership victory over Harlequins at Welford Road. Chichester-born Billy played for Pulborough from U5-U10 levels with twin brothers Joseph and Matthew and Jonathan, the eldest Twelvetrees sibling.
Billy continued: “Our mum Beverly was the driving force behind it all, really.” His dad Kevin has been a busy man, watching Joe and Matt play at Pulborough, Jon at Guildford and Billy at Gloucester.
He was educated at Wisborough Green Primary and the Weald Secondary School in Billingshurst, West Sussex and also played for Haywards Heath, Leicester Lions and on a dual registration with Nottingham. In January 2012, he agreed to join Gloucester Rugby on a two-year contract starting in 2012-13, having completed a double distinction by the end of the previous season.
He twice scored 29 points in Premiership games, the highest individual match total of the campaign, against London Wasps in 2011-12 and when leaving the Tigers had amassed 190 points in 32 games in the competition.
Nick Walshe, the former Bath and England scrum half who is now the England U20 assistant coach, was “a huge help at Bedford” in Billy’s words. He added: “I’m also studying to become an accountant and trying to learn the guitar.”
He has appeared mostly at centre, his preferred position but had a season at fly half for Bedford and figured there in a few games for Leicester.
Now the Twelvetrees name has become just as famous in Gloucester as in Sussex.
15 points - 3T
2013 S, I, It(R), W(R), Arg (1), A, Arg, NZ 2014 F, S, I, W, It
Last updated: March 21, 2014