The BeRugby Big Interview, with Harlequin’s Gabriel Ibitoye and Aaron Morris.
BRM caught up with two of Harlequin’s best young players, Gabriel Ibitoye and Aaron Morris, whilst they were at the launch of Project Rugby’s partnership with Gallagher.
Launched in 2017, Project Rugby is run jointly by Premiership Rugby and England Rugby allowing rugby to reach new communities and put the benefits of playing the sport on the agenda for many participants for the first time. The ground-breaking initiative has been one of the success stories of English rugby with more than 20,000 participants introduced to the game so far.
“Project Rugby is great at getting more kids involved in rugby. It’s the perfect sport for everyone to get involved in. Whatever your size, shape, background there is a place on a rugby pitch for you.” said Gabriel Ibitoye when we spoke with him. “We need to do more to invest in state schools where rugby isn’t as popular. My school offered a lot of sports buts some schools are all about football as it is very popular. If schools offer more sports, then kids get to find what they enjoy but the main thing is taking to the field with your mates”
Aaron agreed with this. “I went to a school that didn’t play rugby and I wish it had. I think more schools should provide it as a sport.” We asked Aaron for examples of where rugby has been a success in encouraging new players to take it up. “The success of the England Women’s team has been great in encouraging girls to take up rugby. It has made it cool for them to play and the extra TV coverage has also helped spread the word of women’s rugby.”
Gabriel and Aaron kindly agreed to answer some quick questions about their lives and love of rugby.
BeRugby Magazine – What was your first rugby club?
Gabriel Ibitoye – Bromley RFC. Great club that really helped me develop. I still have friends there.
Aaron Morris – Bedford Blues.
BRM – Who was your idol growing up?
G.I – Thierry Henry as I am a massive Arsenal fan.
A.M – Would have to be either Jonny Wilkinson or Jason Robinson.
BRM – What is your favourite ground to play at?
G.I – The Twickenham Stoop.
A.M – The Stoop when its full of Quins fans! But I also loved Eden Park in Auckland.
BRM – Who is the best player you have played with?
G.I – Danny Care. He is a magician and not many people can do what he does. Its great being his winger!
A.M – Danny Care is a Mercurial talent at his best. Joe Marler is another top player at Quins. At age grade level Maro (Itoje) was awesome.
BRM – Who is the best player you have played against?
G.I – Niki Goneva. He can offload with one hand or behind or run through you. He is unstoppable when he is in the mood.
A.M – Probably Semesa Rokoduguni. He is so tough to defend against.
BRM – What is your best rugby moment?
G.I – It was in the U15 Natwest Cup when we beat Epsom who hadn’t been beaten in two years. We won in the last 5 minutes.
A.M – Winning the Junior World Cup in 2014.
BRM – What is your worst rugby moment?
G.I – Never winning the Junior World Cup. It’s the one that got away.
A.M – Injuring my PCL against Newcastle.
BRM – What is your favourite meal?
G.I – I eat anything but at the moment I love a Paella.
A.M – Caribbean food like chicken and rice.
BRM – What are your interests outside of rugby?
G.I – I love watching Arsenal play and go to games when I can.
A.M – I am studying for a history degree but also like films and music.
BRM – You are organising the rugby tour. Where do you go and why?
G.I – Australia. I went there with school and it was unbelievable.
A.M – Without doubt Vegas. We might not make it back!
BRM – What advice can you give our young aspiring rugby playing readers?
G.I – Go out there and explore different things in the game and enjoy it. This is the time to try new things out and make mistakes as it doesn’t matter.
A.M – Work on your skill set. Don’t worry about the gym and protein shakes. Work on your skills as these will make the difference when you are older.
Gabriel Ibitoye fact file.
Born – 05/03/1998 in Lambeth, London
Weight – 96kg
Height – 1.78m
Position – Wing.
Quins tries – 4.
Aaron Morris fact file.
Born – 10/01/1995 in Bedford.
Weight – 95kg.
Height – 1.88m
Position – Wing/Full back
Quins tries – 4.