Former Kenilworth School pupil selected to England's Rugby squad

Jacob Umaga during a Wasps v Northampton Saints match
Jacob Umaga during a Wasps v Northampton Saints match

Wasps Academy graduate Jacob Umaga has been called up to England’s 34-man squad ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Championship which starts next month.

The former Kenilworth School pupil, who’s played rugby at Kenilworth, Broadstreet and Hinckley has had quite the journey - and this Wednesday will be flying out to join his England teammates in Portugal for Six Nations preparations, alongside Wasps teammate and club captain Joe Launchbury.

Jacob Umaga, aged 21 who is the son of ex-Samoa star Mike and nephew of former All Black Tana, said: “It’s a bit surreal. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. I woke thinking: 'Did that actually just happen?' Everyone’s been congratulating me and it’s been a really nice feeling.

“I called my dad and all I could hear was screaming down the phone from my dad, mum, brother and sister. My mum didn’t believe me at first, she thought I was talking nonsense so I had to call her back and say it was real.

“It was out of the blue. I’d just been getting over the concussion from a fortnight ago and focusing on trying to get back fit for Saturday’s game.

“This time last year I was playing for Yorkshire at Richmond on a Saturday night so to make my premiership debut, my European debut and now this – it’s been a whirlwind of a year.

Wasps player Jacob Umaga

Wasps player Jacob Umaga

“I just want to take in as much as possible. For me, it’s about learning and the opportunity to learn off the likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford – watching them and trying to build and be the best player I can be.

“Any chance I get, I’ll try and take it.”

The opening day of the league season saw Umaga make his premiership debut against London Irish in October, before his man-of-the-match European debut in November in the win over Agen.

After signing a new contract, the stand-off has since started every Premiership game – excelling in his performances with another man-of-the-match showing against Bristol Bears, and he has now accrued 70 points in 8 starts and 2 appearances from the bench this season.

All of this has culminated in Eddie Jones deciding to add him to his 34-man squad ahead of the 2020 Six Nations – and Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young was quick to praise the progression of his Academy graduate.

Dai Young said: “It’s a recognition of how well Jacob has played this season. He’s worked his socks off to improve.

“He had a stint in New Zealand which gave him some great experience. I think playing in the Mitre 10 Cup competition and rubbing shoulders with some quality players gave him a lot of confidence and belief and he’s come back and gone from strength to strength.

“He’s certainly been a different player this season – he’s got our attacking line moving really well, takes it to the line really well, and makes good decisions. His kicking game is excellent too.”

Umaga, who has represented England at Under 18 and 20 levels, admitted the call-up came out of the blue – but that should Jones call upon him for action, he will seize the opportunity with both hands.