Schoolboy Rugby – “My School Journey Shaped The Player I Became” – Sam Warburton

 

The corridors and playing fields of Whitchurch High School in Cardiff have produced some of the most notable alumni in sport. Not many come as accomplished as the former British & Irish Lions, Wales and Cardiff captain Sam Warburton.

For Sam, the years spent at Whitchurch not only hold incredibly special memories, but he also credits the school with helping him reach the very top.

“The impact Whitchurch had on me was huge,” says Sam. “I look back now and think how much the school shaped my rugby career and gave me the opportunity to go on and be successful.”

It was while at primary school that Sam’s obvious talent was noticed, with the Head Teacher telling Sam and his parents, “He has to play rugby.” At the time Sam had been a reluctant rugby player but that was all soon to change.

“I remember at Whitchurch they were so ambitious in terms of their rugby. The teachers really honed in on us as a year group because of our potential and at one stage we were training twice a week before school and twice a week after school.

“I learned the behaviours of professionalism and hard work there that meant when I made the transition into academy rugby at Cardiff, it was much easier.”

If it hadn’t been for the enthusiasm, expertise and guidance of some of the teachers and coaches at Whitchurch, Sam’s journey to the top may not have been as straightforward.

“They really paved the way for me. Guys like Gwyn Morris really drove that culture of excellence and allowed me to learn my trade. It was such an influential time and it is no coincidence that the school has produced so much talent.”

As well as Sam, Whitchurch was also home to the likes of Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and international footballer Gareth Bale. And according to Sam it was a school that instilled a sense of self-belief in its pupils.

“Being around that success made you think ‘Why not me? Someone has got to do it so why can’t I’.”

And that’s exactly what he went on to do. For club, country and for the Lions, Sam reached the very pinnacle of the sport.

As part of the Lions Origin Programme, every club or school that ever produced a player that went on to represent the Lions has been identified and recognised and Sam believes Lions Origins can play an important role in inspiring the next generation.

“For me its great because it not only recognises those amazing teachers, volunteers and coaches that have helped produce a Lion but it also can inspire the next crop.

“If a young player is at a club or school now and can see that someone went to the very top and represented the Lions from that same start in rugby, then they can believe they could do it as well.”