As the top try-scorer in the 2015 RBS 6 Nations Championship with four, Jonathan Joseph fulfilled the tantalising promise that he showed earlier in his career. That May, he received double recognition at the Rugby Players Association awards when becoming the players’ player of the year and England Player of the Year. His fifth try of 2015, against France in Paris that August, came from a sharp burst of acceleration to the corner after he was unleashed by Mike Brown. A scintillating hat trick in the space of 18 minutes after half time against Italy in February 2016 confirmed his boundless capabilities. He went on to start all five games in the 2016 Grand Slam campaign, together with the victorious Old Mutual Wealth Cup match against Wales in May last year.
Sharp-witted Jonathan pilfered a try in the next game against Australia at Brisbane a fortnight later, hacking on a loose Wallaby pass, gathering the ball and touching down near the posts. His two tries against Fiji in November, included one from a 40-metre run after he intercepted a floated pass from Josh Matavesi. He also scored two against Australia in the final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series, has played in 19 of England's past 20 matches, started 17 of them and scored 11 tries during that time span.
His man-of-the-match performance in the 61-21 win over Scotland at Twickenham last March was sublime. He scored a hat-trick of tries in a 40-minute spell. Head coach Eddie Jones said afterwards: “JJ has bouncing feet. He has great pace and running flair and showed all those attributes today.” Jonathan went on to win selection for this year’s British & Irish Lions in New Zealand and was a try-scorer in his second game against the Highlanders.
Two golden matches towards the end of 2009 had already added to his growing collateral. Then a member of the London Irish Senior Academy, he joined Bath Rugby for 2013/14. His debut for Irish, at centre, brought a 12-11 away win over Cardiff Blues in the LV= Cup and a month later, he scored two of the four tries for the England U19 Regional Academies in the 27-12 victory over Australia Schools at Lymm.
His first England cap was off the bench against South Africa in Durban in June 2012 and he earned a starting place in the second and third Tests, soon after scoring two tries in the record 57-26 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham. He added to the four caps he won in 2012 when starting both Tests against Argentina at Salta in June 2013. His next appearance, 20 months later, brought a stunning try against Wales at Cardiff when he spun through two tackles near the line. Another two followed in spectacular style and from long range in the 47-17 victory over Italy at Twickenham. He deservedly won the man of the match award and went on to run in a fourth try in the 2015 RBS 6 Nations against Scotland.
Jonathan was born in Derby and educated at Park House, near Newbury, the school that Leicester Tigers, England and Lions flanker Tom Croft previously attended. He went on to Millfield, having played for the Derby and Newbury clubs.
His most memorable match in his formative years was for England U18 against Scotland. Jonathan’s games abroad include South Africa and Italy and he has now played in 96 Premiership games and run in 26 tries. One of his best experiences was scoring two against Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in September 2010 and repeating the feat against Sale Sharks the following month at the Madejski Stadium.
Jonathan began playing when ten years old at Derby RFC where his godfather Roxy Fearon coached him before he moved south. His mentors have also included Neal Hatley and Justin Bishop, when he was a member of London Irish Academy. His father Ivan appeared for Northampton Saints and the players he most admires are Elvis Seveali’i and Seilala Mapusua, who were with London Irish.
Versatility is among Jonathan's assets. He has slotted in at fly half and full back as well as centre and wing and his other club was Barnes. 'JJ' joined the England U20 squad in early January 2010, replaced the injured Jack Wallace of London Wasps and started the U20 RBS 6 Nations games against Wales, Italy, Ireland before playing off the bench against Scotland that year and doing so in the corresponding game at Newbury in 2011.
He began the Grand Slam match against Ireland at Athlone, as he did when England beat Ireland and Scotland in the World Rugby Junior World Championship at Treviso that summer.
80 points – 16T
2012 SA(1R,2,3), NZ(R) 2013 Arg(1,2) 2015 W, It, I, S, F, F, I World Cup - Fj, A, U(R) 2016 S, It, I, W, F, W, A(1,2,3), SA(R), Fj, Arg, A 2017 F, W, S, I
Last updated: 26 June 2017