Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Northampton Saint’s Fraser Dingwall on his ‘surreal’ experience in the England squad and what a professional rugby player is doing during the Coronavirus outbreak

Posted on 27 March 2020 by Hamish Percy
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Only one season after making his Premiership debut for Northampton Saints against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham, Fraser Dingwall was included in Eddie Jones’ Six Nations England squad at just 20-years old.

Dingwall made 12 senior appearances for Northampton, scoring four tries, in an incredible breakthrough 2018/2019 season before going on to captain England’s under-20s.

The centre began his international career with Scotland, captaining the under-16 side before switching his allegiance to England and captaining them at the under-20s Six Nations and 2019 under-20s World Rugby Championship.

Despite an injury which hampered the end of Dingwall’s 2018/2019 Premiership campaign he has continued his fine form of last season and has already scored five tries in nine appearances in the 2019/2020 season leading to Jones selecting him for England’s Six Nations squad.

“It was very cool, a bit surreal to start off with and it is still a little bit weird to think it has all kind of happened and that was only a month and a half ago,” Dingwall said.

“I had to get used to it very quickly otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to settle in. But yeah, very cool to look back on.”

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As an outside-centre, Dingwall was behind experienced internationals Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph in the England pecking order, the latter of whom was Dingwall’s roommate.

“The more experienced players definitely helped out. Eddie has a big thing about younger players learning from older players and asking questions so there was definitely opportunities to do that and I leant a lot from it,” Dingwall said.

“One of the main things that stood out was the quality of training and preparation that goes in the week before a game.

“Being there just highlighted how hard the boys work in the week in the lead up to a test match and the level of detail and just the overall quality in the national side.”

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What are rugby players doing in lockdown?

With the country in lockdown and the Premiership season suspended, professional athletes routines have changed drastically and Dingwall shared his experience as a professional rugby player in lockdown.

“I am at home in Northampton and we have got some gym kit from the club and had some plans sent through,” Dingwall said.

“We have a bench, a bar, some racks and some weights so we can do pretty much everything we would do at the club which is good.

“Also trying to do some skill stuff with tennis balls just to try and keep some hand-eye going and then we have done some running sessions down at the local rugby club.

“We have taken a ball and just done some passing and kicking there but it is just not the same as normal training. You haven’t got the big group or the pressure.”

A multi-talented individual, Dingwall is currently in his second year of studying a degree in health sciences at the open university and due to the lockdown he might “finish the year in the next two weeks.”

“So day-to-day I train in the morning, have lunch, then I do a few admin bits including a bit of uni work and then watch TV, have dinner and that is about it.”

With Dingwall and Northampton flying high so far this season the young star will be hoping to get back onto the pitch as soon as possible and back into England’s future plans.