International Calibre Villagers

IT MAY be the close season, but it’s just the start of something big for two talented young Chobham players, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

Whilst many sports clubs across the UK would be proud to just have one player called up to represent their country, Chobham has twice as much to celebrate.

Chobham Stars: Sam Riley and Finn Livingstone-Learmonth

Sam Riley, 16, and Finn Livingstone-Learmonth, 15, were both called up to represent their home nations of England and Scotland respectively last month.

With Livingston joining Chobham on his fifth birthday and his fellow clubman, Riley, first registering at under 9s, it’s been a remarkable rise through the Chobham ranks; and one that looks certain to continue.

Riley first came to the attention of Harlequins, when he was nominated for a trial for their under-13s. Since then, he enrolled with the Surrey development players’ programme, and has gone on to represent his county for the past three years whilst remaining on the books at Chobham.

Similarly, Livingstone’s enthusiasm and passion for touch rugby was evident from a very young age. His spatial awareness, commitment and demonstrating maturity beyond his years has given him the ascendancy over many of his peers.

Such is his sporting prowess that he also represented Surrey County Cricket (West District) between the age of 9-14, and was reportedly scouted by Chelsea FC and Reading FC whilst playing for West Byfleet Scorpions and Woking Town six years ago.

The Chobham duo are now testament that having the right attitude largely dictates your altitude in sport; and neither have the inclination to want the journey to stop now.

On finding out his eligibility to play for Scotland, Livingstone, who studies at Wellington College (Crowthorne), was fast-tracked through the Scotland Exiles Training Group.

During the training camp, he impressed selectors, which duly prompted a call-up to the Scotland Under-16 Blues 25-man squad ahead of the Colwyn Bay Rugby Festival (6-12 April) in Wales. It’s something that the young scrum half describes as: “incredible, and a feeling he wont forget”.

Riley, meanwhile, who has also featured for Harlequins and Surrey, was called up to the England under-16 squad for the friendly fixture against Wales (@ Bridgwater and Albion RFC) on 30 April, which England won 41-22.

It was an amazing experience for the St George’s College (Alderstone) student, who thought someone was pulling his leg after making the final 23 from 400 boys at the Wellington festival.

Having tasted the high life; albeit briefly, both Riley and Livingstone have no intention of letting the next few years pass them by. They now have bug to make it either in the Aviva Premiership and Greene King IPA Championship.

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