Jamie George has all the qualities necessary for England, going from social secretary to captain.
During the height of summer last year, while England was getting ready for the Rugby World Cup, Jamie George held a Q&A event where he was asked about his preferred form of entertainment while on the way to matches. The question suggested that he might have a favorite TV show, playlist, podcast, or prefer to read a book. However, his response sheds light on why he was chosen as the captain of the England team. “I am someone who enjoys being around others. I prefer to sit next to engaging and insightful individuals and have conversations.”
When talking to those who are closest to George, it is evident that his talent for effective communication both on and off the field is one of the qualities that makes him stand out. His coach at Saracens, Mark McCall, praises George’s emotional intelligence, while his former teammate and housemate, Jackson Wray, who joined the club with him at 14, highlights his skill in effortlessly fitting in with various social groups.
Wray stated that this characteristic had been apparent from the beginning of his time at the Saracens academy. In a national final, a team from Hertfordshire, with players such as George and Owen Farrell, defeated Wray’s team from Essex. This led to the formation of the class of 2008, which included Will Fraser and George Kruis. They would later establish a dominant Saracens team, but coach McCall has acknowledged that its reign is coming to a close. At the time, they simply gathered on Tuesday nights, but it was evident that George had the skills to succeed.
According to Wray, even at a young age, he was a leader through his words and actions. He gained the respect of those around him from the age of 14 and consistently led by example, whether it was in the gym or during training. His skill and talent were evident, and it was apparent that he would achieve great things.
His capability to smoothly transition between different groups and feel comfortable doing so is impressive. Whether we were 18 and just beginning in the first team, or now as a more experienced player, he has always had the skill to bond with players at all levels within the team.
McCall mentions George’s confidence in himself as well, and it’s clear that whenever he speaks in front of an audience, whether representing Saracens or England, his words have a strong impact. McCall and Wray also acknowledge that he has consistently shown leadership throughout his career, having learned from past Saracens captains such as Steve Borthwick, Alistair Hargreaves, Brad Barritt, and Farrell.
According to McCall, Jamie is able to connect with people of all ages and has strong self-confidence, which is crucial for a leader as it allows them to delegate tasks and not feel the need to do everything themselves. Jamie also has a deep understanding of the game and excels in leadership on the field, showing tactical awareness when needed.
George was a well-liked choice to take over for his good friend Farrell for many reasons. He brings a breath of fresh air without Borthwick needing to completely change things, and as the most experienced hooker on the team, especially with Cowan-Dickie’s absence, he is guaranteed a starting spot. He earns respect from his peers, has a good sense of humor, and is able to strike a balance between having fun with his teammates and being a leader on the team. As someone who is familiar with him explains, “he went from being the social organizer to the team captain.”
According to Wray, George is not only a dedicated fan of cricket, but also a skilled football player. He has a well-rounded set of athletic abilities, which he developed while attending Haileybury college. His father, Ian, who used to play scrum-half for Northampton and London Welsh, was the director of sport at the college. Wray says that George’s ability to connect with people stems from his diverse range of interests.
He is excelling in his physiotherapy clinic that he co-founded with a friend from school. However, he is highly competitive and takes great pride in his personal achievements. As a leader, this trait is crucial as it motivates one to perform their job to the best of their ability.
Although George seemed like the obvious choice, Borthwick made sure to thoroughly research before making the final decision. He explained, “Before the World Cup, we conducted a study using network analysis, which was suggested to me by [Burnley manager] Vincent Kompany. We asked the players a series of questions and had them rank the top three players they would turn to in certain situations. This created a network showing the connections between players and revealed that Jamie George had an immense number of connections.”
Despite receiving offers from teams in the Top 14 league in France, George has committed to playing for Saracens for an additional two years. This decision has solidified his position as a suitable candidate for captain in the eyes of the Rugby Football Union. George joined Saracens in 2009, but was initially overshadowed by Schalk Brits and John Smit, causing him to patiently wait for his chance to prove himself as a valuable member of the team. Similarly, his path to becoming a regular player for the England team was hindered by Tom Youngs and Dylan Hartley, who was captain at the time. Despite this, George persisted and still holds the national record for most appearances as a substitute before earning a starting position.
Wray explains that although some individuals may prefer to go on loan, the player in question gained valuable experience by being in the changing room during half-time and after games. This included preparing for matches, traveling on the team bus, and observing how others handle leadership and pressure during critical moments. Despite not getting as much playing time as desired, the player still learned a significant amount from these experiences.
What will set George apart from Farrell? It may be tempting to assume there will be many differences, but Wray is not convinced. “They are both highly competitive. We used to have arguments during training, we would argue constantly and even fight at times because we both have a strong desire to win. So there are many similarities between them in terms of leadership and playing style.”
“You follow someone because you respect them, you like them and you know they’re going to deliver. They’re both incredibly talented rugby players, they sense what’s needed. Owen is very direct, everyone knows where they stand, which is important and Jamie does that in a slightly different way but you know what you’re going to get from both of them.”