- Ryan and Jordan Olowefela are both current England internationals
- Identical twins have taken different international paths
Mako and Billy. Rory and Tony. Ben and Tom. Rugby playing brothers are nothing new to England.
The latest off the production line are identical twins Jordan and Ryan Olowofela who are beginning to make their mark on the international stage, but in very different ways.
Ryan recently made his England Sevens debut on the World Series in Sydney, scoring his first two tries in Hamilton, while Jordan made his Under 20s debut against Italy in the opening game of the 2018 Six Nations. "People walk passed us and do a double take."
The Hull-born twins are products of the Leicester Tigers academy having both been at Lincoln Minster School - Jordan is currently trying to make his mark at senior level with the Tigers, while Ryan is a full-time member of the England Sevens set up.
Ryan’s training in the sevens programme usually takes place at the Lensbury in Teddington, while Jordan’s meet ups with the Under 20s take place at Bisham Abbey which has resulted in a couple of cases of mistaken identity.
“People walk passed us and do a double take and you see them go ‘god there’s two of you’ - that’s the comment that we get most regularly,” said Ryan
Jordan added: “Ryan obviously sometimes trains with women sevens squad and they’re based here [Bisham Abbey]. So when I was here before, the women all came up and they’re all looking at me and going ‘hi Ryan, are you alright Ryan?’ and I didn’t have a clue what they were on about.
“Then they sent him a message saying they worked out he was my twin.”
It was not just rugby that the Olowofela’s excelled at growing up.
Their first taste of the game came at school playing tag rugby at 10, before they moved to Lincoln Minster, a music school, on a sports scholarship after going on a trial where they had to take part in a number of different activities.
The talented twins could have ended up down a different sporting path. They both played squash for England, where they were seeded one and two during their teenage years, were both at Nottingham Forest’s academy, where they played on the left and right wing, but it was head coach Eamon Hogan’s work with them that helped progress their careers as they ended up in the Leicester Tigers academy.
“We just played squash for fun really but we’d already signed for the Leicester Tigers academy so we already knew we’d end up there,” continued Ryan.
Jordan said: “There was a time where we were playing both sports at the same time and you get to a certain age where you can’t do both, but we enjoyed rugby a lot more.”
Although identical twins, there are a few tells between the two.
Jordan has grown his hair out, both on his head and face, and also sports a small scar above his left eye from when Ryan threw a potty at him when they were younger. The other major difference is Ryan is both right handed and right footed while Jordan uses his left for both.
“Mum and dad obviously knew the difference but teachers had no idea,” added Ryan.
“The worst thing we did at school was I was in detention for a week and I said to Jord, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ so he took a day for me. That was the only trick we really did.”
When asked about any twin telepathy, does Ryan think they have it?
“I don’t think we do. On the pitch, I wouldn’t call it telepathy but we played a long time together so we know what each other are thinking.
"Off the pitch, no, I don’t have a clue what he’s doing - I don’t even know where he is half of the time.”
Growing up, Jordan’s physicality meant he mainly played at centre with Ryan on the wing.
Their breakthroughs at senior level have come over the past season as Ryan made his sevens bow in the Moscow Grand Prix event last summer, while Jordan has one Leicester appearance after starting the Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Bath in November. "Running out at Twickenham together, that would be the ultimate aim."
Despite their now splitting paths, they do still harbour hopes of playing alongside each other says Jordan.
“It started off wanting to play in the first team at Leicester together but then he left, I guess he could always come back.
“He’d like to get back into 15s and maybe join a team together later on and then we could play together, but he’s enjoying sevens at the moment so it’s still early days.”
Ryan added: “The ultimate goal would be for me to step out on the pitch with him next year either in 15s or sevens. Running out at Twickenham together, that would be the ultimate aim.”