Leading the England U18 side to a spectacular 41-9 win over Wales in the Five Nations Festival triumph in April last year was the forerunner to Gabriel Ibitoye being appointed as captain of the team to tour South Africa four months later. He had not only bagged a try in the runaway victory over Wales but was the BMW Man of the Match. He started the initial three games in the 2017 Six Nations at U20 level and was England’s leading try-scorer, with five, in the subsequent World Championship in Georgia. His performances won him the accolade of being shortlisted for the player of the tournament award.
Scoring tries in his first two matches for England U16 in victories over Scotland and Wales in 2014 gave Gabriel’s international career lift off. He said: “It was an honour to wear the red rose and I would not have got so far without the full support of my coaches at Trinity School, Croydon.”
Next up, London-born Gabriel ran in four tries in his first match for England U18 in the 85-8 win over Portugal in the Rugby Europe U18 Championship in Montauban two years ago and added a fifth against South Africa A that August. Gabriel has more than doubled that total with another six last year, including one against South Africa Schools 'A' in August. A new member of the Harlequins Senior Academy for 2016/17, he was previously in the club’s EPDG. He captained London & SE U16 and was initially educated at St Joseph’s Junior School, Upper Norwood before studying maths, chemistry and economics at Trinity, having taken up the game there at the age of 11.
He said: “I love the physicality of rugby and the adrenalin you get from playing the game is what appeals to me most. Representing England at Test level is something I hope to do. I was originally a lock, then moved to the back row and then to centre. I’ve been playing in all the outside back positions for around five years. After rugby, or if the sporting career doesn’t work out, I want to be involved in the financial sector, either through broking or banking.”
Gabriel has captained Surrey U15, was the side’s player of the season in 2013 and has led Harlequins U16. Younger brother Samuel has also joined the playing ranks. South Africa full back Willie le Roux is the player he most respects: “He reads the game superbly and his link-up play is fantastic. Sonny Bill Williams is another I admire. His physicality is excellent and his ability to control the ball in the tackle and execute an offload is great.”
25 points - 5T
2017 F, W, It World Championship – Sam, W, A, SA, NZ
55 points – 11T
2015 Europe: P, It; SA Tour: SA ‘A’, SA(R) 2016 F, S, W, I, S, W SA Tour: F(R), SA 'A', SA
Last updated: 19 June 2017