- Josh Beaumont studied at Durham and played for England Students
- He played for England against the Barbarians in May, 2015
When Eddie Jones named his first Elite Player Squad in January there was a name that particularly stuck out.
As well as being the youngest son of one of the most recognisable figures in the sport, Josh Beaumont’s inclusion drew attention due to his unorthodox rise through the ranks.
From missing out on representative selection to making a late change of position and choosing to go straight to University, Beaumont’s journey has been an interesting one from the outset.
“IT’S NOT ALL OVER IF YOU MISS THE FIRST BOAT”
As a 6”7 fly half aged 17, Beaumont had always been noticeable. He’d played all of his teenage rugby at Fylde RFC in the backs but hadn’t been selected by any academy squads and was forced to make a big decision on his rugby future.
“I remember speaking to the coaches at Fylde and they told me I needed to move into the forwards to stand any chance of making their senior side,” says Beaumont. “I had got ridiculously big and so moving to the forwards made sense but it was a late move.”
At the time, Beaumont was considering what to do once he had finished school and whether he had any interest in pursuing rugby further. “While I was in sixth form, playing professional rugby wasn’t my focus. I wanted to go to University which my parents were keen for me to do as well, so that was my main ambition.”
“UNIVERSITY TAUGHT ME LIFE LESSONS THAT I WOULDN’T HAVE LEARNED ANYWHERE ELSE”
Having been accepted to study Geography at Durham University, Beaumont began playing for their University side in what turned out to be one of the most successful periods in their history.
“In the three years I was at Durham, we only lost one match and that was in the final at Twickenham,” says Beaumont. who was selected to play for England Students while in his second year at University, which proved to be another significant stepping stone in his development.
“I’d never played representative rugby when I was a teenager so to play for England Students was a massive honour,” he says. “I got to captain them in my third year which was a brilliant experience, it was a special team to be part of and helped develop me as a player”
Alongside Beaumont in the England Students squad were numerous others on a similar journey to Beaumont, studying for degrees while aspiring to play to a higher level, including Englanf Sevens star Dan Bibby, Wasps fly half Alex Lozowski, Newcastle full back Simon Hammersley and Saracens prop Richard Barrington.
Beaumont says they’re all proof that choosing to study at University doesn’t rule out a professional contract. “I think of myself as a well organised person but it’s hard work balancing a degree with rugby,” says Beaumont.
“You can be away for several weeks at a time while having an essay to do but if you are committed and good enough then you can do both,” he adds. “I’m so glad I did it, it’s given me a degree and it gave me time to develop on the pitch at my own pace.”
“I’VE HAD A TASTE OF THE EPS AND NOW I WANT TO GET FULL INTERNATIONAL HONOURS”
After several standout seasons for Durham and England Students, the Premiership clubs finally came knocking.
Beaumont signed for Sale in his final year of University and having cemented himself as a regular starter, he caught the attention of international selectors in May 2015 when he played and scored for England against Barbarians.
“I’ve now got a taste of what it’s like to be in the Elite Player Squad,” says Beaumont having been part of the extended squad during the RBS 6 Nations campaign. “My main aim now is to go on and win full international honours.”
A shoulder injury will keep Beaumont out of action for the next two months but he says his focus is on returning stronger for Sale next season. “I know that in order to achieve that goal I need to be playing well for Sale so that’s what I’m concentrating on at the moment.”
Beaumont admits his route is not shared by many at the top of the sport, but he says it was the right thing for him. “I was a late developer in some ways and I needed that extra time. The degree gave me a life outside rugby and I was lucky to have the advice and support of my parents to help me along the way.”
With England Students having just beaten Ireland Universities over the weekend 57-30, the next generation of talented University players need to look no further than Beaumont as proof of what can be achieved.