Old boy Biyi gets his England call-up, as School announces its rugby stars of the year

Old boy Biyi gets his England call-up, as School announces its rugby stars of the year

Old Elizabethan rugby professional Biyi Alo has received his call-up to England’s 35-man squad, ahead of this month’s international against the Barbarians and the summer tour to Australia.

Biyi (OE 2005–2010), a tighthead prop with Wasps, has this week been taking part in an England training camp at Teddington, with head coach Eddie Jones’ players preparing for the fixture at Twickenham on Sunday 19th June.

His selection comes as QE’s PE department look back on a busy and largely successful rugby season and report that five current senior players have been selected at county and professional club level.

Head of Rugby James Clarke said: “Our heartfelt congratulations go to Biyi on his England call-up, the first for an Elizabethan in some years. He has built a very solid career, firstly with Saracens and Worcester, and now with Wasps.

“I would also like to thank all the players who have represented the School in rugby this year. We played 150 matches across 21 different teams and amassed 73 wins, as well as a number of draws. A special mention goes to our joint top try-scorers, Isa Sheikh, of Year 7, and Shaun Lee, of Year 9, with 18 tries each. After much debate, we have put together our QE Rugby Team of the Year for 2021/22, featuring the best players from across the year groups – I congratulate everyone who is featured.”

Having played football until the age of ten, Biyi found himself having to get to grips with rugby for the first time when he joined Year 7 at QE. Asked by Talking Rugby Union journalist Chris Heal how he felt about that, he said: “‘Of course I enjoyed it. It was an interesting experience and a challenging one to play a game I didn’t grow up with.

“At first, I wasn’t great at rugby, but I stuck at it. At that age, you are just chucking the ball about and just messing about. That element drew me to the sport – as did the physical side of it, as I was quite a big 11 year-old – but I really started to enjoy it.”

He stayed at QE for five years, climbing through the rugby ranks, before moving on to Haileybury and then studying for a degree in Sports Science, Sport Development and Sport Management at Loughborough University.

He has also released some hip-hop songs, under the name ‘Biyi’ and explained to Rugby Pass website his motivation: “I struggled a little before I started music. Everything came to that point where I needed an outlet and the music came then because mental health, especially in young males and black young males in this country, is something which I am glad there has been more light shone on it recently because it is very important and sometimes it can get swept under the carpet in the world we live in, where sportsmen are these tough guys and if you are having any struggles it is, ‘Get over it’. But the effect that that has on the mind and lifestyle is massive…Whenever I get a message from a complete stranger who says a song really resonates with them, it really makes it worthwhile.”

QE currently has five promising players who, like Biyi before them, have won county honours and have caught the eye of professional clubs: Victor Angelov, of Year 12, (Middlesex/London Irish Developing Player Programme); Taro Niimura, of Year 11, (Hertfordshire/Saracens DPP); Ashley Nwapa, Year 11, (Hertfordshire/Saracens DPP); Theo Moses, of Year 10 (Hertfordshire/Saracens DPP), and Aaron Rodrigo of Year 10 (Hertfordshire/Saracens DPP & Middlesex/London Irish DPP).

The QE team of the year’s ’starting XV’ have won tickets to a Premiership rugby match next season, as part of the School’s deal with Inspiresport, who also sponsored this year’s QE Sevens tournament.

The team’s forwards are: Simardeep Sahota, U14; Aashir Irfan, U13; Soham Bhatnagar, U12; David Hirtopanu, U15; Nnanna Okore, U18; Edward Muscat, U14; Theo Moses, U15, and Aaron Rodrigo, U15.

The backs are: Taro Niimura, U16; Thomas Young, U13; Esa Aslam, U12; Ubayd Uddin, U15; Isa Sheikh, U12; Andrew Mbogol, U16, and Ubaidah Rahman, U14.

The reserves are: Timi Banjo, U14; Kailun Zhou, U15; Sabbir Hossain, U16; Alexandre Lee, U18; Shaun Lee, U14; Victor Varbanov, U13; John Chum, U15, and James Conway, U15.