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Youth Rugby News

Latest Rugby News & Articles, Youth Rugby News

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, 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

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


Rachael Burford rugby camp
Latest Rugby News & Articles, Youth Rugby News

Amazing opportunity for rugby mad girls!

This August, grab the opportunity to train with England Rugby world cup winner Rachael Burford, who will be coaching her Summer Rugby Day Camps for girls in Kent, Surrey and Sussex/Hampshire. The Burford Academy camps are aimed at girls of all levels of skill and experience between the ages of 7-18. Attendees have the opportunity to build new friendships whilst developing their skills and confidence both on and off the pitch, all under the guidance of some of the nation’s top female international Rugby players. 

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