The Horsham rugby community was bursting with pride this week after two of its former sons were called into the England Autumn Internationals squad.
Wisborough Green’s Billy Twelvetrees, who grew up playing in the Pulborough minis sides, and former Christ’s Hospital student Joe Launchbury were both given late call-ups to Stuart Lancaster’s squad as injury cover ahead of this weekend’s Test against Fiji at Twickenham.
And although Twelvetrees, who plays for Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership, was among ten players to return to their clubs yesterday, Wasps lock Launchbury is set to take his place on the bench on Saturday.
“It’s wonderful,” Twelvetrees’ mother Beverley said. “For a boy who played for a village team and went to state school, he has come up from the bottom, he has done it it the hard way with talent, guts and determination.”
Twelvetrees, who has previously featured for England Saxons, played for Pulborough minis from the age of four to ten before he went to the Weald School.
His professional career was sparked at Leicester Tigers, but stalled last season and has been reinvigorated by a move to Gloucester.
Beverley said: “He had to leave Leicester, he was not getting any game time. The move has been brilliant for him, he wanted to play rugby, he does not want to sit on the bench.
“The wonderful thing about it is the boost to everyone who knows him. Even people that are not rugby fans or people he played with when he was younger. Everyone is very proud.”
Launchbury is in as cover for Tom Palmer, and has already got a Barbarians appearance under his belt and went to South Africa in the summer.
Andy Turner, director of rugby at Christ’s Hospital said: “He was desperately unlucky when he got injured on the South Africa tour in June, but he has fought his way back this season with his performances for Wasps and he has obviously impressed Stuart Lancaster and the other England coaches.”