There was a period in 2015 when the name Tyrese Johnson-Fisher was on the lips of everyone in English rugby. A video had emerged of the 14-year-old scoring four tries in a single game and it quickly went viral. The video currently stands at 2.5 million views and the excitement around the Oakham school centre was clear to see.
People from all across the globe, rugby and non-rugby fans alike, were sharing the video and watching in amazement as the young back scorched defender after defender and made the game look remarkably easy.
Many believed that Johnson-Fisher was set to be the next big star in World rugby, with a name and a brand that was larger than any other player his age. Tyrese then decided to take a break from rugby, focusing on his sprinting where he managed to clock a PB of 10.72 over 100m. This is incredibly fast for a player of his size and power.
After a short period at Leicester Tigers Under 18’s, the 18-year-old from South London decided to take on an entirely different challenge, American Football. The viral video of Tyrese helped the youngster to gain interest from Coastal Carolina University Football, a team that played in the NCAA Division.
His performance in the Under Armour All-America High School Practice helped to solidify that position.
Speculation increased around Tyrese’s future in the American sport when he retweeted a post saying that he had entered the transfer portal, which meant that he was eligible to join other colleges after a season where he didn’t pad up for his team once.
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) February 15, 2019
This morning it has emerged that Johnson-Fisher will now be returning to rugby, in an exciting move to Bristol Bears which will certainly raise attention from the rugby world and in particular domestic English Rugby.
Excited to see this guy seize his opportunity ? pic.twitter.com/BiPLkmahDl
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) August 9, 2019
RugbyPass has spoken to Johnson-Fisher this morning to gain a better understanding about his move back to England, and what he feels this could mean for his future in the sport.
Rugby Pass: How was your experience playing for Coastal Carolina. Did it meet the expectations that you had when you joined last January?
Tyrese Johnson-Fisher: The experience was second to none, coming in July and having to start at 5:45 with 8:30 classes wasn’t great considering I had just finished my A Levels a couple of weeks before but, the training in the summer was intense and worth my while in every sense.
In season we went from 6:45-11:30 which was challenging considering the fact that we had school stuff straight after but it allowed me to stay focused and stuck to the task at hand in order to smash all areas that I was involved in.
RP: What was the decision behind returning back to rugby?
TJF: Me returning to rugby was always inevitable, I loved everything about the experience I had in the states but England is my home and rugby helped me become the man that I am trying to be. Seeing what Pat Lam has done so far at Bristol made it almost impossible to not want to be a part of so it was an offer that I couldn’t say no to.
RP: What skills did you learn in American Football that you think aid you when you return to rugby?
TJF: American football helped me become an athlete, a better athlete than I was before. For sure my tackling and skills in rugby may not be there but beating a man 1 on 1 and being able to get a quick burst of speed that can be converted into power should help the team and I.
RP: What was the decision behind joining Bristol Bears. What attracted you about the club?
TJF: In regards to coming to Bristol, the direction that the club is going in, is something that I want to be a part of. The coaches seemed like they were passionate about success, the area is beautiful and Pat Lam’s faith in me gave me the confidence to want to return back to rugby.
RP: What are your goals for the upcoming 2019/2020 season. You carry with you a big name after the entrance you made in English rugby in 2015, what do you see ahead of you in the next 10-12 months?
TFJ: Given my past, initially, it’s just getting my hands on a rugby ball again and getting to know my teammates, feel comfortable in the area and understanding the systems. In hindsight I’d love to get a few first team games and a few England age group caps but that’s everyone’s dream? Realistically I just want to get ho to scratch and understand the game.
RP: At 19-years-old, the competition will be increasing as you approach 1st XV rugby. Do you feel the time spent away from rugby will hinder you, or will the skills that you learned in other sports stand you in good stead?
TJF: My time away would have hindered my rugby knowledge but in regards to me as an athlete, I feel the best I ever have and that’s all thanks to American football. In space I feel that I’ll be dangerous but I just need more time to focus on the finer details on my passing, my tackling and reading defences.
Tyrese shall be joining a Bristol Bears team that has been seriously upgraded over the summer with the likes of Nathan Hughes and David Attwood joining. Tyrese will be alongside academy graduate Ioan Lloyd who has seriously impressed for Wales at age-grade level.
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