Big Interview with Henry Barnard Hitchin U10 Jaguars Player of the Year

May 16, 2017

Every Sunday, parents and coaches give up their time to introduce the next generation of players to the sport we all love. It’s the very epitome of grassroots rugby, and without these heroes of the sport, and the boys and girls that want to play it, the future of rugby would look much bleaker.

Young Henry Barnard, aged 10, took up rugby in 2015 despite there being no real history of playing the sport in his family, and two weeks ago was honoured to be named Hitchin RFC Jaguars’ U10 player of the season. I caught up with Henry after his last game of the season to talk about his love for the sport, the tricks he’s learned from YouTube and how he sees rugby fitting into his future.  

Name: Henry Barnard

Age: 10

Team: Hitchin Youth U10 Jaguars

Preferred position: We don’t really stick to positions in the team yet. I like playing all of them really.

What is it that attracted you most to playing rugby?

A friend of mine had started to do it and said it was fun, so I joined too. I didn’t really know anything about it when I first went.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I love tackling, which we did for the first time this year. Before that we just did tag. Running is the best bit though. That feeling you get when you catch the ball, run and know you are going to make it to the line. It’s the best.

What has been the best moment of your rugby career so far?

We went on tour and I played my first international game because it was against a Welsh side. Wales is another nation! I scored a try after getting through loads of the other team’s players. I used a trick I saw on YouTube to get through them by spinning around so they couldn’t tackle. It worked really well. It was a bit cold and wet though!

Who inspires you?

Do you mean like famous players? I like Courtney Lawes and Chris Ashton. But I learnt everything about rugby from the coaches at the club. They are really good and they love rugby. It makes us love it too.

Do you think you’ll carry on playing rugby as you grow up, and if so what do you think your future as a player will hold?

I hope so. I want to carry on and keep scoring tries and things. I want to do my best for the club, the coaches and my friends.

That’s a terrific attitude, Henry, well done. What do you like most about the club that you play for?

I really like our coaches. They teach us about the rugby values and why they are important. They put a lot of time into it and don’t get paid or anything. They care about us and love rugby. All of the parents get to decide who are the best players and should get awards too. The Player of The Match isn’t always the one who has scored the most tries; it’s the one who has tried hardest or improved most. It means we all want to try our hardest.

Do you have much involvement with the senior players at the club, and do you ever go to watch and support them?

Sometimes the older players come and help with some training. There’s always a senior match after the training on a Sunday but we have to go home for lunch so can’t stay – {take note, Mum and Dad.}

Do you see yourself playing for the 1st XV one day?

Yes, I do. Well I hope so. Or maybe I will play for my school. It might be too much if I’m playing for both but I don’t know, yet.

What do you think about your coaches?

They’re really nice. Their names are Birant, Steve, Simon, Alex and Grant. They give up all this time for us so they must really care. If they see something that’s wrong in the team they fix it. We lost a match because we weren’t passing enough so for the next few training times we worked just on passing and it got fixed. We weren’t allowed to score more than once in a match so we had to pass to people in the team who weren’t the usual people who score and it was good for us. There have been a few things like that and it makes the team better. 

What would you say to any of your friends who are thinking of starting to play rugby?

They should join the club. It’s a very, very fun sport. I have already told my friends and some of them do play! Some play football though, and I think rugby is better as there is a place for everyone whatever size you are. It can look a bit scary when there is another team and they are really massive but you just have to do your best. Even if they are big they might not be fast. Sometimes it’s the smaller ones who are really difficult to tackle so they get through to score the try. You have to watch them! So if you are big or small there’s a place for you in a team and it’s really good fun.

The same applies to the senior game, Henry. It’s a really inclusive sport. Would you ever swap rugby for another sport, or do you think it’s ‘your sport’ for life?

I think I will have to play other sports when I go to secondary school but I will still love rugby. I need a summer sport too, though, so might try tennis or something.

Do you think rugby should be played more in school, and if so why?

Yeah, it should. My school is quite small and the headmistress says there’s not enough people who would want to play.

We’ve got the club though, so we can still play. A lot of the girls think it’s a boy’s sport but we have girls in our team and they’re really good. There’s a girl in one of the other U10 teams and apparently she does rugby on a Sunday morning, goes home to get changed and then goes to ballet, which is funny. So you can be a girl and play.

Is rugby a good way of making new friends, and if so why?

I’ve made loads of friends. When I first joined a lot of the team already knew each other from their school so they only passed the ball to their friends, you know, the ones they knew. But the coaches said it was bad for the team and not rugby values so they made us do practise where we got more points for passing to everyone. We also did three-legged races and things to make us work together. So we all got to know each other much faster that way. My Mum and Dad have made friends too and they get to chat while I play.

Which current professional rugby players, if any, do you look up to?

I went to see Japan play Wales with my Dad and we were staying in the same hotel as the Japan team. I saw Kensuke Hatakeyama in the lobby and I had my picture taken with him. He was really nice and happy to do the picture, so I look up to him.

Which is the best team in the world?

Hitchin! Or maybe Saracens. I went to see them with my Dad and we were really close to Owen Farrell. We had seen him on the TV playing for England a few days before so it was really cool.

Who will win the Lions Tour tests next month – New Zealand or the British and Irish Lions?

New Zealand probably. They’re big and fast. I wouldn’t want to play them.

Us neither, Henry. Well done on your remarkable achievement and best of luck for next season!

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Comments (1)

  1. Fiona NewlandsBerwick May 17, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    Brilliant​ interview! Really heartwarming to hear such a young new talent loving his rugby. The pros should read these type of interviews and remember where it all their local grassroots club.