Becoming one of the three England vice-captains for the tour of Argentina this June added to George Ford’s many distinctions. He not only scored 23 points from a try and seven successful place kicks out of eight in the first Test against the Pumas at San Juan but his accomplished all-round performance inspired those around him in an inexperienced team. He also threw a sumptuous, long pass off his left hand that created a try for Marland Yarde. Another outstanding display in the second Test brought him 15 points in the 35-25 win at Santa Fe.
George was the top points-scorer in the 2015 RBS 6 Nations Championship with 75 crowned his exciting and mature performances. He also made more offloads (nine) in the tournament than any other player but his success is nothing new. After becoming the youngest player to take part in a professional club match, George, the former England U18 captain, enjoyed the accolade of being crowned the World Rugby Young Player of the Year for 2011 after his eye-catching displays for the England U20 side.
He played in 11 consecutive matches and amassed 143 points from two tries, 38 conversions and 19 penalty goals. His final appearance was in February 2012 when he converted seven of the nine tries and led the team to a 59-3 win over Scotland at Firhill.
George was also the only person involved in a team sport to be among a shortlist of ten for the 2009 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award. He made his England Saxons debut against Ireland Wolfhounds at Galway in January 2013 and played against Scotland A at Newcastle the following week.
His first Test appearance was off the bench for Owen Farrell in the final minutes of England’s 29-18 victory over Wales at Twickenham in March 2014 and he gave his captain Chris Robshaw a try-scoring pass in the Italy game six days later. He contributed 13 points on his first start against Samoa at Twickenham that November and launched the exquisite cross-kick that created a try for Mike Brown with Anthony Watson the link man. A week later, he landed six of his eight place kicks against Australia, worth another 16 points.
George was man of the match in the 21-16 win over Wales at Cardiff in February 2015. He showed remarkable maturity and contributed 11 points, including a late penalty after which he said: “I just wanted to knock it over for the lads.” His first dropped goal at Test level against Ireland that March was followed by his maiden try against Scotland at Twickenham 13 days later. In the final RBS 6 Nations Championship game of 2015, he scored 25 points against France, comprising nine successful place kicks and his second Test try.
His third followed when he squeezed in neatly at the corner against Italy in Rome in February last year and he went on to start all five Championship matches in England’s all-conquering campaign. Last June, he made an important contribution against the Wallabies in Brisbane and launched a perfectly-weighted chip kick that led to his side’s third try by Jack Nowell in the 39-28 victory. A week later in Melbourne, he was courageous and composed in defence and took pressure off his side with his kicking. His best attacking performance was in the third Test in Sydney when he completed an impressive tour.
George also made a stunning start to the 2016/17 season for Bath Rugby that included reviving a lost art - four drop goals in the first five games, two against Northampton Saints in an 18-14 win at Franklin’s Gardens. In November, he scored his fourth Test try against South Africa and also impressed with his subtle distribution skills in the second match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series against Fiji. George’s long pass that led to Semesa Rokoduguni’s second try was a gem.
He initially appeared for Leicester Tigers at the age of 16 years and 237 days in the LV= Cup match against Yorkshire Carnegie in November 2009, but that was not all. He was in direct opposition at fly half to his older brother Joe, and they were watched by proud father Mike, the former England defence coach, now the head coach at Toulon. George’s younger brother Jacob has played for Saddleworth Rangers.
George, who has produced impressive performances since joining Bath four seasons ago, made 41 senior appearances for Leicester including 26 in the Premiership, scoring 275 points overall. He has since taken his total to 870 points in 92 matches in the competition for Leicester and Bath and is returning to Welford Road for the 2017/18 season.
He also won the Premier A League title twice and played for the Tigers in the northern leg of the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens on his home ground in July 2011. It has been a long journey from Saddleworth Rangers RLFC where George was first involved in rugby at the age of four. He moved on to Wigan Warriors and Bradford Bulls and studied for A levels in English, PE and psychology at Rishworth School, Halifax and was later a contemporary of Owen Farrell at St George’s School, Harpenden.
Oldham born, George has toured Argentina with England U18 and in August 2009 contributed 20 points when South Africa Schools were overpowered 45-13 at Kimberley. He had converted ten of the 15 tries in the previous tour match that brought a 95-0 triumph over Western Province. He had first appeared for the U18 team at the age of 15 and also played for the North and the national U16 sides.
His points collection was expanded with 18 conversions and eight penalty goals and a try in five of the six England U18 matches in 2009-10, all of which brought victory. It extended the winning run at that level to 18 games dating back to July 2007.
George scored 59 points during England’s Junior World Championship campaign in Italy in June 2011, having contributed 76 points to England’s Grand Slam earlier in the year. He initially landed three conversions against Wales and scored a try, eight conversions and a penalty goal in the runaway 74-3 victory over Italy at Bath.
His third game against France yielded a conversion and four penalty goals before he converted all eight England tries against Scotland at Newbury. George’s final flourish was 16 points in the Grand Slam clinching victory over Ireland.
One of George’s most memorable matches was the 2011 World Rugby Junior World Championship final when England lost 33-22 to New Zealand in Padova. The players he most admires are Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter. Mentors have included Tosh Askew at the Tigers Academy and Matt O’Connor, then the Leicester head coach. George was included in the England Senior EPS Squad for the first time in January 2014 and was an unused bench replacement when Ireland were beaten 13-10 at Twickenham the following month.
191 points - 5T, 32C, 32PG, 2DG
2014 W(R), It(R), NZ(R), SA(R), Sam, A 2015 W, It, I, S, F, F, I World Cup - Fj, W(R), A(R), U 2016 S, It, I, W, F, W, A(1R,2,3), SA, Fj, Arg, A 2017 F, W, It, S, I, Arg (1,2)
Last updated: 18 June 2017