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'I hate this...': Why England hooker Blamire nearly quit rugby

By Chris Jones
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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England hooker Jamie Blamire has his father to thank for convincing him to continue playing rugby as a teenager after the Newcastle Falcons forward became fed up with the long drive from West Cumbria to train with the Gallagher Premiership club’s academy. The 24-year-old has scored six tries in his first five Test matches, becoming in the process the first England player to score tries in his first four test appearances.

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That strike rate has seen him quickly become a key member of the England squad with coach Eddie Jones of the belief that the forward can potentially make a significant impact in the upcoming Guinness Six Nations championship where he is battling with Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George for selection. 

“I was about 15 or 16 when I came over for my first Falcons academy session and I played mainly rugby league at the time,” said Blamire to the Newcastle website before linking up with the 36-strong England squad for this week’s preparation camp in Brighton.     

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“It’s a long old drive from West Cumbria to Newcastle, a good two hours each way, and I just remember thinking, ‘I hate this, I don’t want to go back’ as I was sitting in the car on the way home. I don’t know why I was feeling that way, to be honest. 

“It’s because I was playing mainly rugby league from the age of around six, I was from a big rugby league town and I didn’t really understand too much about rugby union at that stage. I have to be totally honest in saying I didn’t enjoy those first few sessions.

“It’s nothing against the club – I was just learning the game, but I’m glad that my dad convinced me to stick with it. Rugby union really grew on me to the point where I can’t imagine playing rugby league now. I started enjoying it more and more, and the Falcons academy coaches Jimmy Ponton and Mark Laycock were really good in terms of how they developed me as a player.”

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Blamire was just 16 when he moved away from home to join the Newcastle ACE scheme at Gosforth academy. He went on to play in the national ACE final before turning professional at the end of his two-year programme and now a first Six Nations is the latest tournament on his horizon. 

“I hadn’t seen the Six Nations until I was about 15 or 16. I was just into rugby league when I was a kid and didn’t watch union at all. I have obviously grown to understand and enjoy the game more as I have started playing but yeah, it’s not something I was ever into when I was growing up.

“It’s nice now to have a bit of an idea of what it is going to be like going into an England camp, but at the same time the whole Six Nations thing is new to me.”

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