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When James met Joel

James, our competition winner, came with us on a gorgeous sunny day to Interview Joel Kpoku, the young rising star of Saracens and England U20’s.

We turned up at the Saracens training ground Old Albanians RFC and James was already there. He sat in the bar clutching his typed-out questions and looked like a seasoned journalist already. He was surrounded by giant rugby players and eagerly waiting the interview.

We thought we would get to know James a little better first. So, while Billy Vunipola, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode and others wandered around we chatted to James our journalist for the day. James is a speedy wing/full back who loves Saracens. He is obviously passionate about rugby and his favourite bit about the game is the contact (which he has only just started) and getting muddy. He also likes football, cricket, tennis and athletics and watching England play. His enjoyment of getting muddy is made easier by the fact that his mum washes his kit!

We ran through James’s excellent questions and then it was time for the big interview and for James to meet Joel.

James – When did you start playing rugby?

JK – I started playing at 12 for my school and then I went off to play for a rugby league team. So I started off playing rugby league

James – What club was that at?

JK – For Saracens Amateurs and London Skolars for rugby league.

James – What piece of coaching did you find most useful?

JK – There’s quite a few, but I would say the coaches getting everyone involved in terms of training and stuff and not leaving anyone out. It important so that everyone is as one.

James – What position did you want to play when you were younger?

JK – I didn’t really have a specific position I just thought somewhere in the forwards. I started off as a prop!

James – Why did you want to play at Saracens?

JK – They are the best team in Europe and the country. What they have to offer in terms of the coaching and the players around are unreal so it’s good to be a part of it.

James – What’s different about Saracens to other clubs?

JK – I would say the culture. They bring everyone together and don’t exclude anyone and everyone has a say. Off the field, the things they have to offer in terms of the sports foundation helping kids are great.

James – How many hours a week do you train?

JK – (Scratches head) Plus 12? I don’t know the specifics, but I know it’s quite a lot.

James – How much do you eat and what’s your favourite food?

JK – Oh I eat quite a lot as I’m a big lad! I like a good steak cooked well done with some broccoli on the side and some sweet potatoes.

James – What’s the hardest team you have played against?

JK – I would say France in the U20’s World Cup are probably the toughest team I have played against.

James – What song gets played when you score a try?

JK – It’s a French song called La fuite by a rapper called Vegedream?

James – Why did you choose that song?

JK – I Just thought it was different and it seemed suitable with me and my parents both speaking French.

James – Was Owen’s tackle against South Africa a foul?

JK – No I don’t think it was, he tried to wrap that arm around.

James – Do you think England’s try against New Zealand was offside?

JK – This is a hard one. I thought he was on the back foot as the ball was picked up, so I would say it was a try.

James – What’s your favourite rugby ground to play at?

JK – Allianz. Even though it does burn my knees!

James – I going on tour soon. Do you go on tours?

JK – I went on tour with the U15’s at Saracens Amateurs to Ireland.

James – What do you like doing outside of rugby?

JK – I like swimming and I am also doing a plumbing course.

James – Do you play any other sports?

JK – I try to but not really as rugby is the main one.

James – Where did you last go on Holiday?

JK – I went to Majorca in the summer with some of the lads from the U20’s.

James – What was your favourite subject at school?

JK – P.E!

James – Can you beat me at my times tables rock-stars?

JK – Yeah probably ha-ha!

(Times tables rock stars is an app on James phone where you answer 20 questions and only have 5 seconds per question.)

James went first and got an awesome 20 out of 20! Joel’s confidence on a rugby pitch is excellent, but his nerves may have failed when he faced James and his maths tekkers. Joel came a close second with a respectable 9 out of 20.

Many thanks to Joel Kpoku who was such a friendly man and great fun to talk to. We are sure that he is a star of the future and we really look forward to chatting again. All the best Joel.

 

Joel Kpoku fact file

Age – 19.

Height – 1.96m

Weight – 126kg

Position – Lock

Fun fact – Joel has a twin brother called Jonathan who also plays for Saracens.

Latest Rugby News & Articles

7 reasons to visit World’s Largest Sport & Music Festival!

7 reasons to visit World’s Largest Sport & Music Festival!

The World’s Largest Sport and Music Festival is back this late May bank holiday, 24th – 26th May 2019, in the beautiful South of England, Bournemouth. Renowned as the sporting Glastonbury, Bournemouth 7s has established a formidable reputation over 12 years among sports people and festival goers alike.

With its buzzing atmosphere, Bournemouth 7s attracts over 30,000 festival goers and 400 sports teams each year from all over the world to the picturesque Dorset country side.

By day, Rugby, Netball, Hockey, Dodgeball and Volleyball teams compete in a range of elite and social sports tournaments across the 65-acre Festival sites.

By night, the Festival offers 15 vibrant themed Festival arenas including the much-loved “Bunker” and 40 live bands and DJs with sing along parties, R’n’B, dance, techno, garage, Hip Hop and house music.

Bournemouth 7s is getting bigger and better each year. This year it has added Volleyball to its offering and responded to the rising popularity of Dodgeball across the world by increasing the opportunity for non-sporty people to play, compete and have fun in this brilliant non-contact sport. 

This year, Bournemouth 7s opens the doors to an amazing crazy VIP arena – ‘The Colourseum’. If you are looking to ride a rodeo bull, participate in sock & suit wrestling, play giant beer pong, or have a relaxing massage after enjoying a drink in the garden, ‘The VIP Colourseum’ is your arena. Or, treat yourself and upgrade to ‘The V-VIP’ and mingle with the celebrities.

Glamping is Bournemouth 7s most exclusive and easiest package, as all you need to remember is to rock up to the Festival with your essentials, as everything will be awaiting your arrival, including pre-erected bell tents, the Glampers bar, beds and private luxurious bathrooms.

Bournemouth is also for your rugby mad kids. Under 14 year olds are allowed to enter the festival for free. Every minor (under-the age of 18) needs to be accompanied by someone who is over the age of 21. Children have to leave the campsite at 7pm. In terms of playing at Bournemouth 7s, children are able to enter Hockey, Dodgeball, Netball and Volleyball teams. In terms of Rugby tournaments – it depends on the player who applies for playing at Bournemouth 7s. It is judged case by case depending on the child’s experience and level, since it is a contact sport. 

Manu enjoys visiting the Bournemouth 7s.

Rugby-pros attend Bournemouth 7s every year. Last year Leicester Tigers players Tom Varndell and Manu Tuilagi, as well as ex Wasps Winger Christian Wade, Welsh Rugby Union Player Shane Williams and former England Rugby Player Lewis Moody took part and attend Bournemouth 7s – the World’s Largest Sport and Music Festival. 

Also, Just confirmed! Simon Shaw will be attending this years Bournemouth 7s. The former English Rugby Player Simon Shaw, is not only one of the tallest men to have played for England, he also became the first player ever to play in 200 Premiership matches. Simon Shaw is the longest-serving England rugby player and is now designing and creating rugby balls.

For 2019, Bournemouth 7s will support Dorset Mind and Hope for Food charities with partnerships to be announced.

Tickets are on sale now! To become a part of this unique crazy experience,  check out bournemouth7s.com to secure your EARLYBIRD weekend ticket for £50.

For more information please contact Gemma Harris (gemma@lineupmedia.co.uk) or Mira Obersteiner (mira@lineupmedia.co.uk) ; Twitter: @LineupMedia

Bournemouth 7s: website: https://bournemouth7s.com  Official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-v8insYz1c

Charity Partnerships: Dorset Mind https://dorsetmind.uk and Hope For Food https://www.hopeforfood.org.uk

Picture Credits: Bournemouth 7s

Latest Rugby News & Articles, Youth Rugby News

Amazing grassroots support for the “My Name’5 Doddie Foundation”

Rugby is not just about the top clubs and international games. Your clubs, up and down the country, are doing great things and playing great games and we want to hear about them. Check out this story from Blaydon RFC and their support of a fantastic charity through an U13’s match with Melrose RFC.

A few seasons ago the then Blaydon RFC U10’s, based just outside of Newcastle, raised £1700 for Solving Kids Cancer UK a venture which sowed the seeds for the importance of fundraising and helping others.  This season the team, now U13’s, have been inspired by the story of the legendary former Scotland and Lions international star player Doddie Weir and chose to support his charity by playing a fixture against Melrose RFC.

Doddie was diagnosed last year with an illness called Motor Neurone Disease which currently has no cure, so he decided to put all his energy into a charity that he and some friends started up called the “My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.”   The ‘5’ is not a mistake but refers to his favourite shirt number from his playing days.

When Doddie first played rugby, it was for his local club Melrose RFC in the Scottish Borders and when the sport went professional, he played for Newcastle Falcons and it was this geographical link that provided the connection between the two clubs.

On the day of the match, 45 eager and skilful young players representing Melrose Wasps and Blaydon Lions got involved in a fantastic game of rugby played on what is arguably one of the most scenic pitches in the country under some glorious autumnal Scottish sunshine.  The game was played in the true spirit of the sport with some beautiful running rugby on display and tries aplenty with Blaydon RFC emerging as victors and claiming the inaugural “Doddie Weir Trophy” that had been donated by the Blaydon team as an annual award to encourage that this fundraising fixture continues for many years to come.

Post-match in true traditional style the young players enjoyed each other’s company and after all being presented with a participation medal and acknowledging each other’s performances got down to raising funds for Doddie’s Foundation by way of a raffle.

The day was great fun all round and both teams made new friends along the way with the talk already turning to plans for the return fixture at Blaydon RFC next season for some more entertaining rugby and to continue raising funds for such a worthwhile cause.

Find out more at www.myname5doddie.co.uk

(Our thanks to Andy Lane at Blaydon RFC for this story and also his great work in sorting the charity game out!)

 

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Latest Rugby News & Articles

Anthony Mullally. Plant powered.

Anthony Mullally is an Ireland rugby league international and Leeds Rhinos forward. At 6ft 5ins he is known as the Vegan Warrior because he doesn’t eat any meat or animal products, and is one of the strongest and fittest players in the country. He actively works with Veganuary, an event that promotes a month of a vegan diet each January, and has recently opened a vegan restaurant called Vital Café near his club’s grounds in Leeds.

Anthony was a vegetarian for two and a half years before going vegan two years ago. “I watched some talks and documentaries on YouTube which changed my perception of things.” he said. “Obviously because of the nature of the sport, I didn’t want to do anything drastic that would affect my performance, but I know now that was never going to be the case. “Initially for health reasons I gave up red meat, chicken, then fish. But then I looked into the dairy industry and decided to go vegan for ethical reasons.”

Though he says he didn’t miss eating meat, he sometimes found it hard when he and the rugby lads went out for food after training. “We’re quite social, so that was difficult to go places where there weren’t vegetarian options.  I used to get some stick off the lads for not eating meat. Other players from the club were initially shocked when it first happened, but then people had questions and wanted to know why.”

Anthony had to research the right things to eat to maintain his weight. “You definitely don’t need meat to gain muscle and perform at your best at the highest levels of sport,” he says. “But it’s more than just eating veggie burgers or white bread and rice. It’s important to have a balanced and varied range of greens, wholegrains, beans, and legumes,” he says. “As long as you get the right amount of calories you’re going to perform as well you could anyway. At the time I didn’t realise that but now I know that’s the case.”

He says that he feels better since going vegan. “I’m as strong as I’ve ever been. I was the strongest in the team so there’s definitely been no decline in strength or physical performance. I’m still competing with the real big guys. “I also noticed that I wouldn’t be as sore after weight sessions. I feel really good.”

Leeds Rhinos have been very supportive of Anthony’s vegan diet. “As a club, they really look after me,” says Anthony. “They provide vegan food at the club, and when we’re out they always ask the chef to make a vegan option for me. Even on away tours, they’ll do the same with the hotel. They’re very accommodating.”

He suggests that vegan and vegetarian players should discuss their needs with their own club.

“Everyone deserves to be treated equally based on their beliefs. At your own rugby clubs it’s good to speak to whoever’s in charge of the kitchen to see if they could provide at least one option. Everyone needs to eat after a game, and a pack of veggie sausages doesn’t cost a lot! 

Q&A

Birthday: 25th June 1991

Position: Prop

Height: 6’5

Weight: 112 kilos

Pre-match rituals: No rituals really. Just try to keep in the moment and not dwell too much on what might happen or what has happened.

Advice to youngsters? Enjoy rugby. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you want to make it as a rugby player you have to put in the hard work, dedication and discipline.

Find out more about Anthony Mullally on:

Instagram @mullally91

Twitter @mullally_

Interview by Nima Suchak

 

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Latest Rugby News & Articles

Possibly the best competition ever!

Do you have a rugby mad child who fancies themselves as a sports journalist or wants to give it a go? Do they want to meet an elite, professional rugby player? Then check out our great competition.

At BeRugby magazine we are very lucky to meet the best rugby players in the world. But we thought, why should we have all the fun?

So, we have teamed up with the awesome guys and girls at Saracens to offer YOU the opportunity to meet a top Premiership player and interview them with us!

Read more