Friday, 27 November 2020

Shiplake student delighted after making Wasps debut

A STUDENT at Shiplake College has told of his pride at making his first team debut for London Wasps.

A STUDENT at Shiplake College has told of his pride at making his first team debut for London Wasps.

Tom Howe, 17, started at right wing against Leicester in front of crowd of almost 20,000 on Saturday.

He was one of four players to make their debut for Wasps in a 34-8 defeat in the LV= Cup at Welford Road.

Despite the result, Howe says it was a “dream come true” to play for the club he has always supported.

He said. “I didn’t know what it would be like until it happened. I was walking down the stairs to the pitch and saw a large stand opposite that stand alone had 10,000 people in it it was ridiculous, it was like a dream come true.

“Before Saturday, the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of was 1,000 and that was playing for England against Scotland in the U17s.”

The England U18 international says he was pleased with his debut although he made more tackles than passes.

Howe said: “My first touch was a high ball which was kicked by their scrum half. I caught it to calm my nerves and I got a few more touches as the game went on but the majority of the game I was tackling because Leicester had most of the possession.

“The game itself wasn’t good because we lost but I really enjoyed it. My favourite moment was tackling Matt Tait, a player I have looked up to, so that was pretty special.”

Howe, who was replaced on the hour mark by Scotland international Hugo Southwell, was pleased with how he played and was congratulated by the team’s management for his performance. He said: “When I came off I was relieved that there were no injuries. I didn’t make any mistakes but I didn’t have much to do I was just happy that nothing bad happened.

“The coaches offered me their congratulations but they are quite hidden, I don’t know what to expect now.”

After his PE teacher got the call from the Wasps management, Howe was invited to come and train with the first team on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week.

Howe said: “It was a bit scary at first because I have to make my point but the older players have been lots of help.

“Wasps do like to play young players in the cup and I think they wanted to see how I coped in that environment.”

Howe had hoped he would always get a chance to play for the team at some stage but he didn’t think it would come before he was 20.

He said: “Hopefully I can play for Wasps again, maybe next year in the cup. I don’t know if they would want me for the Premiership just yet but we will see.”

Howe first started playing rugby when he was five, playing for Beaconsfield Rugby Club.

He said: “I enjoyed it as soon as I touched a rugby ball and I then got serious when I was about 12 and really started training hard. Getting selected for England U16s when I was 15 was the motivation to carry on with it.” Howe, who lives in High Wycombe with parents Karen, an office worker, and Francis, an estate agent, has a brother, Toby, 15, who also plays for the college.

He added: “My dream would be to put on an England shirt at some point and walk out at Twickenham and that’s what I am aiming towards.”

Chris Lloyd, the Wasps U18 academy coach, said: “Tom was a natural choice to step up into the senior squad for last weekend’s LV= Cup game against Leicester having performed well for us in the A league this year as well as being a stand out performer in the RFU Academy U18 competition.

“He is an outstanding athlete and his experience with the England 7s Royals second team in Dubai was a clear indicator of his athletic abilities.”

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