We’ve all done exams. Some have gone well, some have not. Some are memorable, others forgettable.
A week ago England U20 forward Justin Clegg found himself at the British Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. The reason? His final second-year Geography degree exam. Moments earlier he had just found out he’d be starting against Wales a few days later. Luckily for Clegg, the exam went well and it is a day that will live long in the memory.
“I went into the exam trying to focus on it but I was looking down at the paper and all I could think about was line-out calls and the game,” said Clegg.
“It was weird having to go to the British Embassy to do an exam, it went well though and they were so good about it. I’m so grateful for Durham University and England Rugby for letting me do it out here.”“Scoring for your country is something I’ve never done and an amazing feeling."
A few days later Clegg scored his first try for England in front of a very special spectator – his brother.
“Scoring for your country is something I’ve never done and an amazing feeling, I’m glad that I contributed to the win,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting my brother to be there, it was nice to have the family out, and it’s the first game for England he’s seen me play.”
On Thursday the Worcester lock also played a part in helping England advance through to the last four of the World Rugby U20 Championship – it’s been a memorable week for Clegg.
“It was always a goal of mine to get into the team so to play in it and play with the calibre of boys we have here is just incredible,” he said.
BUCS Super Rugby
Birmingham-born Clegg is a member of Worcester’s academy and made his first-team debut off the bench in the 31-25 Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Bristol.
He also plays in the new BUCS Super League for Durham and is a huge fan in the role it has in developing players.
“The standard has flown through the roof, compared to my first year,” he said.
“Academies are looking a lot more closely at it. Next year I’m captain so hopefully I can lead the team to something brilliant, which I know we can do. It’s a good league for players who haven’t got the exposure early on to develop mentally and physically.”
Durham University is one of 15 partner universities to the RFU and this year competed in the inaugural BUCS Super Rugby competition. Durham finished fourth in the competition this year while teammate Harry Randall was part of a Hartpury College side that lifted the trophy at Twickenham.
Experience of a lifetime
Prior to his exam, he would often be found sitting in a quiet area of the team hotel. Head down, headphones on between 6.30-8.30am. Now it is over he can focus solely on the challenge of South Africa on Tuesday (3pm, live on ITV 4).
“Trying to prepare for the first game with all the flying and studying before then playing Samoa was hectic, so I just wanted to get that one out of the way,” he added. “After that it was get the exam out of the way and do everything I can to do as well as possible.
“Now I’ve done it, I’ve got a lot more free time and I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s a great sense of achievement, I’m pretty proud of myself.”
Clegg made his England debut in this year’s Under 20 Six Nations against France, later helping the side win the Grand Slam in Ireland.
At 6ft8in he is making a sizeable contribution to the side, describing playing for England as “incredible”, as England look to defend their title.
“I’m trying to make the most of it and focus on the job ahead,” he added. “It’s a great experience and I don’t want it to be over.”