Harry Randall’s past still lingers on his lips – a touch of Welsh accent lingers in the voice of the Bristol Scrum-Half, telling the story of a young man now trapped between two nations.
Tiny number 9 – who is only 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs only 11 pounds – attended the same school as George North and Alun Wyn Jones, was in Scarlets Academy, and played at the Shane Williams Club as a kid. But now, after a short pause, he says, “Well, personally I consider myself English.
“Wales was a big part of my childhood so I’ll never forget it.” I had a great upbringing there. Wales will always have a place in my heart but I teach myself English as I was born in England and have English parents. “
Bristol Scrum-Half Harry Randall could make a decision between England and Wales
Randall impresses this season for the Bristol Bears and his loyalties are put to the test
To fully explain the story, Randall, who will face Newcastle on New Year’s Day, was born in Slough, but at the age of four he was adopted by his parents – Joby and Shella – and his two other sons, Jake and Charlie, then eight and six into the Amman Valley.
They still live near the Brecon Beacons where they run their own rooftop business. Randall has lived in Wales for 13 of his 23 years and feels very attached to the place.
“My first very local club was Tycroes, the village I lived in,” explains Randall. “And then I played for Amman United – they are famous for being Shane Williams’ local club.”
“That was very exciting and it was good to be part of a small club where someone was playing on an international level. It was an inspiration to us on that level. I also played for Kidwelly and played a little with some friends. It was a good experience to be down there. Very pleasant.
“While I was at Llandovery College, I was at Scarlets Academy for a few years. There were a couple of Alun Wyn Jones and George North shirts scattered around the school. It was a good inspiration to know that these boys had left the same college and to try to follow in their footsteps to some extent. “
Randall has a strong affinity with Wales after spending 13 of his 23 years in the country
But will he? Or will the smell of the red rose lure him away? In 2021, his loyalties are sure to be put to the test.
Welsh coach Wayne Pivac may have three top Scrum halves – in Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams and Rhys Webb – but he’s already expressed an interest in adding Randall to his Bristol-Welsh contingent, which includes half Callum Sheedy and Ioan Lloyd belong .
And England coach Eddie Jones could soon be looking for a No. 9 to replace Leicester’s test centurion Ben Youngs, 31, and has already mentioned the Bears pocket rocket by name.
“It would be an absolutely difficult decision,” admits Randall. “I see myself as an Englishman, but Wales has a place in my heart.”
And then did teammates Sheedy and Lloyd lean on him to join them in Welsh red?
“Not necessarily!” Smiles Randall. “I’m very close to both of them so it’s nice to see they’re fine, get into the Wales squad and do their thing.”
Randall (center) admits that his Welsh teammates in Bristol don’t convince him at all
“It’s great and deserved for both of you, and it’s good to hear their stories from the camp and how they enjoyed it.”
Despite playing for Wales under the age of 18, Randall has spent most of his professional career in England.
At 17, he moved to Hartpury College, entered the Gloucester system and represented England under the age of 20 before moving to Bristol in 2018.
There he found his niche. And Randall may be one of the smallest players in the Premiership, but he packs a punch.
Randall (left) has played international youth rugby for the England U20 during his career
“I always say now that it has benefited me to have two older brothers who shake me up a little,” he adds.
“I’m not the biggest of the boys. When I was young, it helped me strengthen myself.”
“I’ve always been confident enough to face bigger guys.” It all comes from there.
“Rugby is a game for all shapes and sizes. So it’s about practicing my tackle skills and techniques.”
Randall suits Bristol as well as his club suits him. ambitious and sharp to dazzle. At the start of the new year, the bears are third in the league and still have one shot in the European quarter-finals.
Randall and the Bears do well in both the Premier League and European competitions
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