Chris Robshaw: The Millfield man who went on to become England captain
From a teenage prop to the first England captain under interim coach Stuart Lancaster. That’s the story of Chris Robshaw’s rise through the ranks.
When Robshaw enrolled at Millfield School – the famous Somerset sporting institution – his strength and mobility stood out.
‘We did not have anyone else for prop,’ was Jonathan Brimacombe’s assessment of his new pupil aged 14.
‘He had a very good build for it, but as he was he was very mobile, he had as much an influence in the front row as he would have had if he had played in the back row. Chris did eventually gravitate to back row but prop is where he started.’
Star pupil: Robshaw (middle row, third from right) in his Millfield days
Brimacombe, a long-standing rugby coach at Millfield, realised he had an emerging back-row forward two years later when Robshaw blossomed to 6ft 2in and 17 stones. But he admitted that he never felt Robshaw was destined to be England captain.
‘What he did have was application and he was always consistently excellent,’ added Brimacombe.
‘He has shown that there is more to professional rugby than raw ability.
‘He has great determination and is your Mr Hundred Per Cent man.’
The same appraisal comes from John Kingston at Harlequins where the Surrey-born Robshaw started in the club’s academy.
‘I think the big thing about him is he has the most professional attitude in everything he does,’ said Kingston. ‘And he’s never lost that appetite as he has moved through the ranks. He’s had his ups and downs but he’s always bounced back. He’s always looking to improve himself. He’s self critical and he’s incredibly coachable, always asking questions and taking a big interest.’
Swing low: Robshaw on holiday with brothers James (centre) and Al (right) in Portugal
Robshaw has earned himself a reputation as one of the Premiership’s most consistent players. Kingston believes the 25-year-old deserves to captain England despite the fact he will be playing only his second Test in Saturday’s opening to the Six Nations Championship against Scotland at Murrayfield.
He said: ‘He’s earned the right. He missed out on the World Cup, which was disappointing for him, but he’s worked hard to gain this chance. I don’t think you have to play 40 times to captain England.
‘What would have been more of a surprise was if they had picked a player who had never captained a team at a decent level before.’
Along the way, Robshaw has enjoyed the trappings of being a professional sportsman. He is dating singer Camilla Kerslake and was best man to Henry Sands, actor Julian’s son. Robshaw has also not forgotten his roots at the Warlingham club in Surrey. This season he organised a trip for the club’s mini and youth section to watch Harlequins – which delighted club president John Worsfold.
Mr Consistency: Robshaw is presented with the Premiership Player of the Year Award in 2009
‘It was a great day and showed he had not forgotten where it all began,’ said Worsfold. Robshaw is the club’s second cap, following centre Terry Brook, who played twice in 1968.
‘Everyone is so delighted. It shows there is a pathway from bottom to top,’ added Worsfold.