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Video: Charlie Atkinson Interview & Highlights

Charlie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. First of all, congratulations on signing Senior Academy terms with Wasps. How has it been so far? 

I’ve loved every minute of it. Although I’ve only been training with Wasps for a few months, the players and staff have all welcomed me into the club allowing me to feel right at home. I have good days and bad days at training but there is never a doubt that I can’t ask anyone for help or to look at a few clips which is what a new player like me needs to settle in.

From a ‘rugby’ side of things the club have said you will be with the senior squad for the season restart, that’s a huge achievement just a few months out of school, you must be massively excited about that?

Excited is definitely the word to describe it, to be able to train with and learn from players I’ve grown up watching is a dream come true. However, there are a lot of nerves obviously as joining up with the team in the middle of the season is difficult but so far I’m really enjoying it.

There are some great guys in your position at Wasps to learn from Jimmy Gopperth has done it all and Jacob Umaga is already showing that if you give a young guy a chance, they can shine. Who are the guys in the club you’re most enjoying getting to train alongside?

Definitely all the fly halves as each one of them has a huge amount of experience no matter their age and a lot of advice to pass on which is really helpful. Joe Launchbury is also enjoyable to train with as he’s a legend at the club, everyone falls silent when he speaks which shows the amount of respect people have for him.

Let’s go back to the start, what’s your earliest rugby memory and how did you get into the game?

Earliest memory is playing tag rugby for the U6’s at Oxford rugby club. My Dad was in the middle of studying for an MBA and so needed me out of the house allowing him to study in peace (finally) so my mum took me down to the club and with the support of them I never looked back.

Tell us a bit about your school rugby career and your early representative rugby, was it always Abingdon and Wasps, what was your experience at Abingdon like?

Oxford RFC was where it started but Abingdon and Wasps for sure helped me develop further. My time at Abingdon school was the best time of my life, not just because of the sport but also the culture and people I met there which ultimately made me who I am today. 

What are your standout school rugby memories?

Rosslyn Park Sevens in 2015, we were complete underdogs and somehow made it to the cup semi-final where we lost to Whitgift. Also, our Schools Cup run this season where we again were underdogs but managed to reach the quarter final unfortunately narrowly losing to Whitgift (again…). However, being able to play my last few school games at home in front of the whole school will definitely stand out in the memory bank in years to come.

Obviously COVID-19 has changed just about everything this year, but it also meant that the England U18 season never really happened, which is a great shame. However you did manage to get capped out in South Africa in 2019, what was that experience like?

It was an unforgettable experience playing the sport against other countries which really broadened my view of the game. Although I didn’t get as much game time as I had hoped for, I was able to make some friends for life and memories I’ll never forget. It was a shame I was never able to play for the team with my family watching on the sideline as they normally do.

Which young players do you think we should be keeping an eye on this coming season?

Olly Hartley and Alfie Barbeary.

Which current or past players do you look up to and do you model your game off anyone in particular?

I would say I try to model my game off a mixture of Cipriani and Wilkinson. Cipriani because of his unmatched decision making and Wilkinson obviously because of his kicking but also grit/determination in defence.

Who has been the biggest influence on your rugby career so far?

My family and also Andrea Masi at Wasps. The support and advice they’ve given me has helped massively so far allowing me to stay motivated and remain on track.

Quickfire:

My last ever meal would be: Chinese takeaway

If I could meet one person it would be: LeBron James

My favourite music is: Club classics

If I wasn’t pursuing a career in rugby I would be: Trying to find my way through the business world.

A position I would never want to play: Prop (no offence)

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