4 April 2016
Player Profile: Aaron Chapman
King’s College pupil Aaron Chapman was back in school after making playing two matches and scoring three tries for the England U18 side.
The 17-year-old winger, who is playing a year above his age group, is no stranger to the big occasion – a few weeks back he played for the Exeter Chiefs U18s in the National Finals, where he also scored tries.
In his first match for the U18s, which was against Scotland, he came off the bench and scored a try that enabled England to win the match.
Aaron said: “It was a great feeling to make my England U18 debut and then to score was really special. It came about as a result of some great team work and a lot of trust from the other members of the team, especially as I am playing with the older lads.
“It was a bit of a challenge for me but I think I managed to take it quite well. I came off the bench and after a slightly nervy start I got it together and managed to get a try on my debut.
“Being a year young I’m looking to get as much experience as I can this season and hoping that next year I will be able to make a big impact.”
Aaron explained how he first became interested in rugby: “I started at St Peter’s School (Lympstone) in Devon when I was 11 and began playing in the B team at fly half. I then moved up to the A team playing in the second row.
“I played up through the age groups and moved to play as a flanker for the U13 side at St Peters, got picked for the Devon sides and then played a couple of age groups up for Exeter Chiefs. I then got picked for the South West and then played for England U16s, which has led to where I have got to now.”
After his debut against Scotland the King’s College youngster then got called up to play for England against Wales.
“It was a great experience for me and there was a fantastic atmosphere and a good-sized crowd. I came on for the last 25 minutes against Wales, who were fighting back into the game, and helped us to hold on and win, which was brilliant.”
The 17-year-old winger talked about his involvement with Exeter Chiefs.
“They picked me up when I was 13 years old. I got put into their elite player development programme when I was 14 and stayed there until last year when I was selected to go and train alongside the First XV players, which is a real insight into what their life is like.”
Aaron has represented Exeter Chiefs U18s at the National Finals day at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens RFC on two occasions.
“The top three teams from the north and the south compete to find out who is best. Last year we came third and this time we were fifth, but it was a great day out and gave us all a chance to get some more experience playing in a big stadium.”
Expanding on his time with the Chiefs, Aaron said:
“It’s great because they have contracted me until I am 21 – which is a great reassurance to me and gives me confidence. They also help me out with accommodation and pay my mileage if I need it.
“When I watch the Chiefs play it makes me feel that one day I want to be out there playing alongside them as well. It’s a great environment to be involved with because the Chiefs have really started to rocket in the last couple of years.
“At first it was quite scary training with the first team squad but eventually I settled and the bonds started to form. Everybody in the camp is so friendly and there is a great atmosphere about the place.”
What of the future?
“I think I am going to ride it for as long as I can and see where it takes me and if it gives me a career, then great. However something I am really passionate about is medicine and that’s the field I’d like to go into eventually. However I have to see what comes along and hope for the best.”
Aaron, who lives in Exeter and boards at King’s during the week, talked about those who have helped him on his rugby journey.
“Mum and Dad have been a huge support to me and driven me all over the place, but recently I passed my driving test so that will hopefully make things a bit easier for them.
“The support network at King’s College has been just great to me, and the academic side of things along with the rugby has been a huge part of it. I need to have that balance because in rugby you never know when your career might be over.
“On the field I have lots of individual coaching sessions and try to put into practice things I have picked up elsewhere to help us to develop as a team and to see some good results coming along.”
Aaron identified two of the coaches who have played a major part in enabling him to progress so far.
“My first coach at St. Peter’s was Dave Roberts who was my form teacher and he introduced me to the sport when I was younger.
“Since I have been here at King’s, Mr Gresswell has supported me in anyway that he can and continues to do so. He comes along to watch me whenever he can and I can see that bond carrying on into the future.”
Looking to the immediate future Aaron said: “This summer England U18s have got a tour to South Africa which I hope to be selected to go on, so there is plenty to look forward to!”