By Paul Wilkinson
Storming into the England U16s whilst playing for Harlequins U18s and our very own Hampton 1st XV cannot be easy for anyone.
However, when I sat down with Louis Lynagh, it was clear that through his passion and determination for the game, he did not see this as a struggle.
PW: When did you first start playing rugby?
LL: I started playing rugby when I was around four years old at Richmond Rugby Club, but I first passed a rugby ball when I was one.
PW: And did you take up the sport because of how successful your father was in the game?
LL: I guess that rugby has always been my go-to sport and this is slightly because of my dad, but he believed that you could play any sport as long as you tried your best at it, so he didn’t really mind if I played other sports. But rugby was the path I chose.
PW: Has he had a big influence on your career so far?
LL: Yes, he’s played a massive part in improving the little areas of my game and teaching me how important it is to have good sportsmanship, above anything else.
PW: You starred for England U16s in their victory over Wales U16s, but is this your biggest achievement to date?
LL: Yes I think it probably is, but I’m also playing for Harlequins U18 and have been selected for two England U17 and U18 camps so far, with aspirations of making further England appearances this year.
PW: Did you feel a lot of pressure playing for the 1st XV when you were only in the Fifth Year?
LL: At first, the only real pressure was getting to know the older players, but once that passed I knew my game would take care of itself. I learnt a lot playing in the team so young and it has massively helped the development of my game.
PW: Do you ever struggle to balance your rugby commitments with your work at School?
LL: At points I did, but now that I’m in the Sixth Form, even though the work is in greater loads, the teachers are working hard with me to make sure I can cater for both my work and rugby commitments at equal levels.
PW: How far do you think you can go in the sport and what would be your ultimate dream?
LL: I don’t feel like saying how far I think I can go because I believe that if I continue working hard and improving, good things will follow. However, my dream right now is to become a professional and then ultimately to play international rugby for my chosen country.
PW: What advice would you give to fellow Hamptonians looking to follow in your footsteps?
LL: The key thing is to take on as much advice as you can and to focus on your own game. Do not worry if someone is quicker than you or can lift more than you in the gym, just focus on what you can do to make your game better. Also, listen to any constructive criticism from coaches and if you have a bad game, learn from it and come back next week knowing that you are not going to make the same mistake again.
PW: You have already worn the White Rose of England, but are your sights set on pulling the Wallabies jersey over your head?
LL: Right now what I’ve achieved is great in my eyes, regardless of what country it was for. If I do get to play for any country internationally in the future it would be a huge honour. Of course, I’m Australian and would love to play for them but realistically I live in England and if I got the opportunity to play for England I would take it.
PW: Finally, bearing in mind that your future at Hampton may rest on this question, who is the best coach at the School?
LL: (laughing) I don’t think that I can answer that one.
So, there you have it, an interview with one of Hampton’s rugby stars. I am sure that everyone will agree with me when I say that whichever club or national side he ends up playing for, we will support him.