The England U20 squad announced last week included the name of Dan Robson, the Gloucester Academy half-back who has become a fixture in the England setup since his debut last year.
Robson has moved quickly through the ranks in the last 12 months, but a quick glance down his rugby CV demonstrates enough leadership qualities alongside his undoubted rugby talent to suggest he could be leading England at some stage in the future.
At the start of the last season, Robson found himself well down the pecking order at the prestigious Rugby Academy at Hartpury College in Gloucester, penciled in for 3rd team action. It wasn’t until the arrival of former Colston’s Daily Mail Cup-winning coach Alan Martinovic, that his full potential was spotted whilst he took part in a casual throwabout with some mates.
The youngster from Stoke-on-Trent was immediately installed as Hartpury’s first choice fly-half and helped inspire them to win last season’s first ever AASE Championship. He’s now part of Gloucester’s Academy playing regularly on the Premiership A circuit eyeing up a first team debut, as well as a member of the England U20 squad.
His prodigious talent is highlighted by the fact that both England and Gloucester are equally comfortable with playing him at scrum-half and fly-half, and having captained nearly every team he’s played in for the last 10 years or so, his leadership experience is developed beyond his years.
We caught up with the future England star, and we’re delighted to confirm that he’ll be contributing regularly to The Rugby Blog, keeping us posted on his career development and providing a glimpse of life behind the scenes of the international setup.
“Playing Australia in December last year for my debut was unbelievable. It’s hard to explain – I’ve always wanted to do it, and then standing there singing the national anthem was just surreal.”
“I really wanted to prove myself to the rest of the squad and to show them I deserved my place.”
Playing at scrum-half, Robson made an immediate impact in the tense 30-28 victory for England U18s over Australia Schools, creating the opening try after taking a quick line-out and sending second row Dominic Barrow over the line. He obviously did enough to impress the selectors and earn the respect of his team-mates, and subsequently played a part in the Six Nations earlier this year.
I was interested to know how a young team would celebrate thumping the Aussies, but it sounds like the celebrations were low-key and suitably fitting for ambitious young players set on reaching the top of their sport.
“After the game I was absolutely shattered and we didn’t really do much. My father and grandfather were there, and I think I just went back home. We’re quite a close squad though, and we text each other all the time and keep in touch. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys again when we get together on the 20th for the England camp.”
Asked about his objectives in the game, Robson was focused on the immediate challenge in front of him. “I’m playing in the Gloucester A game on Monday, and I’m just trying to play well and get myself up the order at Gloucester. Some of us might get a bit of game time (in the first team) in the Amlin and LV games.”
“There are a few things coming up with England as well, with this training camp and then some games in the Autumn, the Six Nations next year and the U20 World Cup next summer so I just want to play as well as I can.”
We’ll be catching up with Dan again in the next few weeks, so stand by for another update, and hopefully we can stick with him all the way to him leading the senior England side out at Twickenham.