'Jason called him up and fake scared him... my dad got quite intimidated'
Louis Lynagh may have been capped by England at age-grade level but the Italian-born Harlequins winger is definitely a chip off his dad’s Australian block as his gift of the gab means he is well able to tell amusing stories that are not the norm, certainly for a 20-year-old in the days leading into the biggest game of his life.
Thirty years after his father Michael helped the Wallabies to defeat England at Twickenham to win the 1991 World Cup final, Louis will be part of the Harlequins side gunning for Gallagher Premiership glory in this Saturday’s showpiece decider against champions Exeter.
The final will cap quite an exceptional breakthrough year for the youngster who only started his first Premiership game for the club on Boxing Day.
Lynagh has enjoyed a total of ten appearances and four tries in the 23-game Harlequins league campaign, an emergence topped off by his decision to agree on a contract extension at the club rather than follow the path that will be soon taken by his younger brother Tom, who is joining the Queensland Reds.
However, Louis has jokingly recalled to RugbyPass how his career could have been over after his very first training session as a four-year-old at Richmond, just a couple of miles along the road from Twickenham where he hopes to be lifting the league title trophy this weekend.
"He has got a good kick on him but his dad was the master 10 back in that era"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 11, 2021
“That is a funny story,” chuckled Lynagh when asked if it was true that his father once received a threatening phone call from the legendary England and Harlequins prop, Jason Leonard, after Louis got into a bit of bother at his debut minis rugby training session. “I was training with Jason’s son and we got in a little scuffle, a jokey one, nothing too serious. I mean, we were four years old but Jason called my dad up and fake scared him. If you met my dad in real life he is not the tallest guy and he got quite intimidated.”
Michael Lynagh went into the history books as one of the most venerated Australian rugby players of all time. He won 72 caps, played at three World Cup and was such a hero to Billy Millard that the current Harlequins general manager had posters of the famed No10 all over his bedroom walls growing up in Sydney.
The infatuation has not been lost, Millard regularly referring to Louis at Harlequins as Noddy, the nickname Lynagh senior was known by when he ruled the international scene with a magical boot and a running game to savour. The nickname hasn’t cottoned fully on at Harlequins.
“Some guys do (call me Noddy),” said Lynagh. “Ben Tapuai does it, but that’s the Australian connection as well. It’s not such a bad thing. I wouldn’t mind being compared to my dad, he was a decent player himself so if I got to be at the same level and have his nickname that’s okay by me.
“It has been a theme since when I was growing up and throughout schools rugby, but now I like to think I am making my own path. I will always have that connection to my dad and I will always be thankful for that, not only for his help in my career but what opportunities I have had to meet certain people and gather information about playing rugby and a lot of other opportunities. But, especially this season, I have shown that I can pull my own weight and I’m hopefully making more strides to bring my own name to the forefront instead of just being referred to as my dad’s son.”
As he admits, the family connection has helped in certain instances but Lynagh is adamant that the success he has enjoyed so far in his short career wasn’t simply handed to him. “I like to think I’m a hard worker and this opportunity hasn’t just fallen into my hands, I have been working hard even before I came into the academy.
“All the steps leading up to this are finally paying off and that is not to say that after the final that is me done and I have had a great career. It’s just the beginning and that is something my dad always used to say to me, ‘Yeah, you have made this great achievement but then that is just the beginning of another step in your career’. Even though I have made such great progress there is always room for improvement.”
It was months ago, long before Harlequins became title contenders, that Lynagh decided his future was best served by staying on at The Stoop. He could see the potential of the squad even though it had struggled to be publicly seen before the Paul Gustard era as head of rugby ended in January.
“I got convinced by how amazing a group this team is and that was before even we had a big run of games and we climbed our way up the table. Just before me, Marcus (Smith) re-signed and loads of big players had been re-signing. Then I re-signed and that just shows the effect of how we have all come together as a group and managed to form this core group of players that we can build from the backbone. Now we are in the Premiership final it just shows I have made the right decision for my career.”
The making of Maro Itoje ?
Jim Hamilton was lucky enough to spend some time with Vitality ambassador and former teammate @maroitoje before he heads to South Africa ? @Vitality_UK
EP 1 – https://t.co/CIOmpi9Q2K pic.twitter.com/tSUOl348QX
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 24, 2021
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