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Flackwell pupil takes a week off to prepare for Wasps debut
A FLACKWELL Heath teenager was back at school on Monday morning just two days after making his Wasps debut at Welford Road.
Tom Howe is a year 13 pupil at Shiplake in Henley, and less than 48 hours after squaring up to Leicester Tigers and going toe to toe with giant Tongan wing Niki Goneva he was sitting in a classroom doing art with Miss Andrew.
The 17-year-old said: “It was very weird being back at school on Monday, a bit of an anti-climax.”
Howe joined the Wasps academy three years ago, after spending 12 seasons with Beaconsfield RFC.
He has also represented England at youth level but nothing had prepared him for Saturday.
It might have ‘just’ been the LV Cup, but Leicester are the defending champions and a handful shy of 20,000 supporters packed into the stadium to watch their team take on one of their greatest rivals.
Howe said: “Welford Road is an amazing place to make your debut. I think it’s the biggest ground in the Premiership and there were so many people there.
“The most I’d ever played in front of before that was about 1,000, but you could hear the crowd when you were in the changing room before the match.
“You could hear the rumble and doesn’t really settle your nerves, but the coaches just told me to be confident, to enjoy it and not let the occasion overwhelm me.”
On a narrow pitch in a game in which Wasps had next to no ball, Howe didn’t get much of an opportunity to shine.
But he played nearly an hour and shared a pitch with some household named before being replaced by Wasps captain Hugo Southwell.
Incredibly, in this era of professionalism and sports science and elite conditioning, Howe had to take a week off school just to attend training before the game.
He said: “I got called to Wasps training the Monday before.
“We were training for a week at Harrow so I had to take the week off school. It was ok, they’re really good with stuff like that.
“I was hoping to be involved in the squad, but to be starting was amazing.
I found out on Thursday. I just walked in in the morning not expecting anything, and they’d put the team sheet up on the board.
“To see my name up there was amazing.
“The night before the game I had to take some sleeping pills, I wouldn’t have slept otherwise. But there was a bit of crash afterwards.”
Wasps take on Sale in their final LV=Cup match at Adams Park on Saturday.
Prices have been sliced by 25 per cent for the game which could see Danny Cipriani's first return to Wycombe since he left for Australia in 2010.
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