Jamie George made the most of his surroundings, becoming a crucial part of Saracens’ hugely successful rugby team and representing England at four levels
Boarding school can be an immersive atmosphere for many pupils – but Jamie George got more immersed than most, growing up on the campus at Haileybury School, where his father taught and is now Director of Sport. On leaving school, Jamie signed as hooker for Saracens, helping them to win the 2011 Aviva Premiership. He has also represented England at under 16, under 18 and under 20 levels, as well as the second-string England Saxons. Now 24, Jamie hopes to turn out for the full national side before long.
Tell us your memories of sporting life at Haileybury.
Whenever I think back to the coaching at school, the word ‘enthusiasm’ always comes up. The coaches were so keen on us learning the game, and were full of hope for our futures both as people and sports players. A lot of coaches get bogged down with tactics, but at Haileybury they just wanted us to get out there and start enjoying our sport, learning the simple techniques that would stand us in good stead whatever we did with the sport after school.
And what about life beyond the sports field?
Socially, Haileybury was an amazing place to be. I have a huge network of friends from the school that I will retain for life. It was also a great place for nurturing your interests, whatever they happened to be. Of course I felt a special connection with the place. The rumours that I was born in the sanatorium are untrue – but I did grow up on the Haileybury grounds, and that amazing campus was my backyard.
What have been your career highlights to date?
Being a part of the squad that won the 2011 Aviva Premiership, after a very tense final, was pretty special. Playing for England Saxons was a huge honour – the biggest of my career so far, alongside taking on the Saracens captaincy for a game away to Leicester at Welford Road. There’s no better place to play rugby.
Have you had to contend with any major challenges so far?
I came out of school in 2009 and went straight into the Saracens team, getting a couple of years of Premiership rugby under my belt straight away. Then the club signed John Smit, the most capped Springbok and the most capped international captain of all time – put simply, a legend – in my position. Obviously, that stunted my opportunities. To get a taste of professional rugby and then to have it taken away was tough for me, but I had to learn to be patient.
Did you feel like jumping ship?
I had offers from other clubs, but I knew that Saracens – my local team, close to my heart – was the club for me. I never thought of going elsewhere, and in the end that paid off. In fact, the experience was beneficial, giving me a fresh influx of appetite and desire. Until then things had come easily to me, but this reminded me how much I need to be playing and pushing myself.
What about your hopes and plans for the future?
I want to keep developing and playing well for Saracens. We haven’t won any silverware since 2011 and I’d like to help turn that around. And if course I’d
hope to be selected for the full England team. I’ve had talks with the England coaches, I know what they are looking for and I have come relatively close – but rather than looking far ahead, I’m just focusing on playing well and developing as a player and person. If all this comes together, the opportunities should follow.