Ivybridge RFC, who were promoted to National Three South West 2015/16, is the constant thread running through the playing days of Henry Slade, who took up the game there 12 years ago and was involved until 2010 with the progressive club.
Five years on, he became the RPA Young Player of the Year and had scored 216 points, comprising eight tries, 28 conversions and 40 penalty goals in 66 Premiership matches, including all 22 in 2014/15. His creativity, composure and skilful pass to launch Anthony Watson to the line for the first of his two tries illuminated Henry’s England debut against France in August 2015.
Two months later, in his first RWC match against Uruguay, he not only showed flashes of inspiration but also scored his maiden Test try. He was absent from early December to March last year after sustaining a broken leg but played in the Aviva Premiership final against Saracens two months later. His return to international level was off the bench against Fiji last November and he also played against Argentina that month. In February, he made his Six Nations debut off the bench for Ben Te’o against Italy.
A product of Exeter Chiefs Academy, Henry has been on a dual registration with Plymouth Albion and amassed 65 points in the 2013 RBS U20 Six Nations after being man of the match against Scotland in the opening game at Plymouth.
He added another 55 points in the IRB Junior World Championship, including 13 when England secured the title for the first time by beating Wales 23-15 at Vannes. Henry’s 13 matches for England U20 brought 133 points, comprising a try, 28 conversions, 23 penalty goals and a dropped goal before he made his Saxons debut off the bench against Ireland Wolfhounds at Gloucester in January 2014. A year later, his third appearance for the side, against the same opposition brought 13 points, including a try, in a hard-fought 18-9 win in Cork.
Having studied biology, physical education and graphic design at Plymouth College in his home city, Henry spent a year at Exeter University. He has represented South West U18, Combined Academies U17 and scored a try and landed two conversions in his second of ten matches for England U18 in the 66-19 win over France at George in July 2010.
He had previously started the game against the Namibia Invitation XV at East London and later figured as a replacement against South Africa at Port Elizabeth. Henry also contributed two conversions, again off the bench, in the 29-12 victory over Ireland at Donnybrook in December 2010 before scoring 16 points in the 64-0 win over Italy U19 at Sale two months later.
Henry switched to centre for the subsequent game against Scotland and showed his versatility before reverting to fly half against Wales in Auch and landing two conversions and a penalty. He took his points total to 30 in 2010-11 with another penalty against Ireland at Tarbes in April. More international experience followed with appearances in all three England U18 matches in Sydney in August 2011.
He was among seven try-scorers in the 46-19 triumph over Australia Schools. Henry made his England U20 debut off the bench in the 40-9 win over Wales at Twickenham Stoop in February 2012 and landed three conversions in the 42-7 victory over Italy at Rovigo. His maiden try at that level was against Ireland in the IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa in June that year.
Backtracking, he captained South Devon U14 and, looking ahead, he wants to win the Rugby World Cup with England. Past mentors are England U18 head coach John Fletcher, Paul Setter and Adrian Coles at Ivybridge and Richard Edwards, Richard Thompson and Scott Williams at Plymouth College. Present ones feature Ricky Pellow, Ali Hepher and Keith Fleming at Exeter Chiefs. He was the Premiership Player of the Month for February 2015, having scored 57 points, including a career high of 27 in the win over Harlequins.
His list of trophies and competition wins is impressive with both Plymouth College and Ivybridge. He helped the college to become National Preparatory School champions in 2004, Blundell’s Sevens winners four years later and West England U16 Sevens champions and Devon Cup winners (2009), followed by the Kelly College 10s title in 2013.
Henry's Ivybridge triumphs include lifting the Devon Cup in three consecutive age groups from U14 upwards from 2007-09 and being crowned the Devon Sevens champions at U14 and U15 levels in 2007-08.
Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson and Quade Cooper are players admired by Henry, who appeared at wing, inside centre and full back before moving to fly half. He was previously educated at Ugborough Primary in South Devon and Plymouth College Preparatory School in the west of the county and his favourite ground is Sandy Park, the home of the Chiefs.
5 points – 1T
2015: F World Cup - U 2016: Fj(R), Arg(R) 2017: It(R)
Last updated: 28 February 2017