From ball boy to Bristol debut maker was a dizzy rise for loose head prop Tom Rowland, who joined the club at the age of 14 and recently signed a senior academy contract. He started playing for St Brendan’s Old Boys when seven and said: “Tag rugby was OK but it was even better when we began full contact. I was also with Old Bristolians when we were runners up twice in the Gloucestershire Cup at U15 and U16 level. We did win the Bristol Combination Cup in the older age group.”
London born, he took A-levels in economics, geography and PE at Bristol Grammar School, having previously attended Westbury Park Primary School and St Benedict’s, Ealing. His first senior game for Bristol was against Exeter Chiefs in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, having switched from back row to prop and put on 20kg in two years to boost his scrummaging power. Luckily, he enjoys both his food and spending hours in the gym. Tom’s England U18 debut was in the 43-14 win over France at Aylesbury last March.
His mentors are Ben Scott, the head of rugby at Bristol GS, Mike Hall, the Bristol Academy manager and forwards mentor Mark Irish at Ashton Gate. George van Klaveren, the club’s strength and conditioning coach, has worked hard to get his body into the right shape for the front row.
Tom also played cricket for Somerset from in the U11 to U15 age grades and his proudest moments outside rugby are scoring a century for his school’s first team and, also at the age of 15, completing a 104-mile cycling sportive in Wales with his dad Marcus. His biggest rugby mates are Bristol’s James Dun and Andrew Christie, another fellow England U18 squad member, who plays for Saracens.
At holiday time, he likes to go to Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, listens to drum and bass while training and rates Happy Gilmore as his top film. Prison Break and Breaking Bad are his favourite TV shows and his foodie treat is steak, sweet potato fries and salad. He describes himself as ‘hard working, driven and coachable’ and added: “I’ve always looked up to Ellis Genge (ex-Bristol now of Leicester Tigers) since I switched to loose head. His aggression, ball carrying and scrummaging is exciting to watch.
“My mum Anna is a New Zealander. She encouraged me to take up the game and has seen almost every match in which I have been involved. She is my biggest supporter, along with my dad, Marcus and my younger brother Sam, plays at schools and club level.”
2017 F, W (R); SA Tour: F, W(R), SA
Last updated: 30 August 2017