Like a lighthouse in a storm, Henry Arundell’s arrival on the international scene, was like a piercing light in the gloom of a test defeat for England on Saturday. With his first touch of the ball to score a brilliant solo try, he confirmed all the excitement emanating from him. Could he transfer his club and age group form onto the big stage?
Well, yes he can and it is such a relief to see an attacking player who backs himself to score sublime individual tries. Many players have it drummed into them that they should look for their support when making a break, Arundell has the speed, ability and confidence to make the decision to go it alone and score himself.
You had the feeling that when he scored his magnificent try for London Irish against Toulon, he knew from the time he received a pressure pass on his own try line, he was going to score at the other end of the field. Oh, to have the skill and belief to do that. “Ain’t many players in the world who would have done that, could have done that,” were the excited commentators’ words.
The Toulon try introduced Henry Arundell to the rugby world and straight away there was pressure on Eddie Jones to include him in the England squad to tour Australia. Arundell is qualified to play for England, Scotland, Wales and Cyprus, the place of his birth in 2002. Jones named him as an “apprentice player” to Australia, which was probably a good move to relieve the pressure on Arundell to succeed. There has been many a young player who for various reasons went from being a shining star to an inferior version of themselves. Once a player’s weaknesses are unearthed and defences become more aware of the threat they pose, they often find it difficult to continue their sparkling introductory form. So far Arundell, despite being more familiar now to the opposition, appears to have gone to another level, when he could have travelled down a familiar path.
Even after scoring “the try” at Toulon he brought back memories of old when try scorers had serious expressions and any emotion was outlawed! Hopefully success, attention, praise, celebrity status, money and ego will not affect him, the first sign will be if he changes the colour or style of his hair!
Les Kiss, the London Irish coach described him: “He has got a good sense of humour, he is deliberate in terms of how he goes about his conversations, I want to improve this, I want to work on that, how do I do this. He is very attentive to all his detail and is very deliberate with his work,” explained Kiss when asked by RugbyPass.
Henry Arundell, not like his namesake, Henry Arundell, 8th Baron Arundell of Wardour, has always been a rugby player with great potential, since he attended Harrow School and was part of the London Irish Academy since fourteen years old. Patrick O’Grady first saw Arundell in action as a 14-year-old, freshly inducted into London Irish’s Academy. “You see those long-range tries now, but he would do very similar things on the field from a very young age,” O’Grady told BBC Sport.
After making his Premiership Rugby Cup debut against Saracens he was named as their Young Player of the Season for 2021-22.
Arundell was described as “one to watch” in the 2022 Six Nations Under 20s Championship, where he was the joint top scorer. He scored a familiar length-of-the-field try against Scotland. He also gained attention playing for London Irish, when the “Exiles” were down in a match by twenty-five points, with a twenty-minute man of the match performance by Arundell, they clawed back to a forty-two all draw. His highlights reel showcases further superb club performances, including two magical chip and chase tries against both Leicester and Wasps. It was as though he knew instinctively which way the balls would bounce for him to retrieve.
If you have not yet had the pleasure to see Henry Arundell’s try against Toulon, here it is:
He appears to start off slow before he gets those massive thighs moving to propel him away from defenders with brilliant in and outs, speed and swerve to score a memorable try.
If I were Eddie Jones, would I start with Henry Arundell? As an “apprentice” do you still ease him into the team? Does he get managed or do you just cut him loose.
If England lost the second test, then the series is gone, so why not just throw everything at Australia with Arundell starting. A difficult choice Eddie but over to you now, this is why you get paid the big bucks!
Henry Arundell plays rugby the way it should be played and I wish him well.
Five things you didn’t know about Henry Arundell
Coming from a military family, Arundell was born overseas in Cyprus at a British navy base. Prior to making his England debut, the speedster was eligible for England, Scotland, Wales and Cyprus.
At first, he had a lot of trouble with his family because they wanted him to join the armed forced. However, when his family saw how good he was, they changed his plans.