It’s crunch time at Twickenham later today, with the climax of the English domestic rugby season as Leicester take on Harlequins in the Premiership final, with two sons of Croydon expected to play key parts.
Quins and England captain Chris Robshaw’s links to Warlingham rugby club and the area were first reported here. Somewhat neglected over the years by the conventional local media has been the outstanding professional sports career of a former Trinity schoolboy, George Chuter, the Leicester and England hooker.
The Premiership final is the annual contest following the regular season. This is Leicester’s eighth successful final appearance. Chuter, at 35 years old, has been involved in seven of them.
Playing in such a demanding, yet key, role in the side, in both the scrums and line-outs, as well as in the loose, which makes Chuter’s high-level longevity in the game with England’s leading club side all the more commendable.
Chuter has been playing in the position since her started in the game at school at age 12, growing up playing for Old Mid-Whitgiftians and being groomed for greatness when he was picked for a representative London side at under-18 level.
Part of the first generation of professional rugby players, Chuter has seen the game – and particularly the scrum and the hooker’s role – change considerably since his time as a schoolboy on the playing fields of Shirley.
The modern scrummaging contest is more about shoving power, rather than setting up for the hooker to, literally, hook the ball back.
“I do miss it because it was more of a contest then,” Chuter said in an interview last week. “I still strike for the ball occasionally, but these days the emphasis is on pushing over the ball. I sometimes think back to the time when it was peeing down with rain, the score was 6-0 or 6-3 and the front row would come off knowing we had won or lost the battle. Those techniques, the skills I grew up learning, have gone by the wayside.”
The daunting prospect of the front-row battle in the scrum means that Chuter, with all his experience, is remains highly regarded. But that experience has been hard-won. “I had just left school and it was my first time against men’s sides. I was probably not much smaller than I am now, a pretty big lad, around 15 stones and 5ft 9 and 7/8in tall, and I was up against this smaller, older guy,” Chuter told the Telegraph.
“I remember thinking I would have him for lunch, but in that first scrum he had my nose on my knee, my arse in the air and I couldn’t get my foot off the ground to go for the ball.”
That’s unlikely to happen to George Chuter in his seventh English Premiership final this afternoon.
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- Warlingham old boy Hart forced by injury to retire from Wasps (insidecroydon.com)
- Player of the year Robshaw leads Quins to final (insidecroydon.com)
- Green Dragon breathes some life into local cultural scene (insidecroydon.com)
- Leicester and Harlequins take different paths to Premiership grand final | Robert Kitson (guardian.co.uk)