EXCITEMENT reached a fever pitch as Peter Symonds College alumnus, England and Harlequins centre Joe Marchant recently returned to the college to spend some time presenting awards and chatting to members of the college’s various rugby teams.

Joe, who graduated from Peter Symonds in 2015 with an Extended Diploma in BTEC Sport, took part in a Q&A session with students and staff before presenting Principal Sara Russell with an England shirt from one of his earliest international games.

During the Q&A session Joe talked about his experiences managing his academic studies with his playing career and professional aspirations, and praised the support and flexibility the college provided. He talked about how he stayed motivated during lockdowns and gave some insights into his recent experiences at Harlequins and playing as part of the England squad.

Talking about some of his highlights of his time at Symonds Joe said: “Playing regularly with my mates and really enjoying rugby. I think it’s really important to enjoy what you’re doing. I also enjoyed coming together with players from lots of other teams and playing at a different level with other students from all over Hampshire.”

When asked if he had any advice for current students, Joe said: “My main piece of advice is to work hard. I know that sounds really simple but when you get an opportunity it’s important to push yourself at those times and get ahead – something I could have done a lot more!”

Commenting on the event, first team men’s captain Freddie Smith said: “Joe's discussion of the training programme which he was on when at Symonds was really interesting, describing how busy his day would become and the work ethic which he had to establish to succeed. It was really interesting to see the route which he took in order to make it pro, and highlighted that there's many other opportunities than just the conventional routes.”

Women’s Team Manager Beth Matthews said: “It was a great opportunity to ask questions of a professional athlete and to be able to get an insight to his life and the adaptions he has made to cater for his career.”

Currently dealing with an injury herself, Beth found Joe’s comments on coping with adversity particularly interesting. She said: “It really resonated with me when he spoke about his previous injuries and recovery times. It helped me to be positive that there is time to recover and play back to a high standard again. It’s about taking the opportunities when they come to you.”