Finn Theobald-Thomas Exclusive: ‘You never know when it could be the end of it’

Theobald-Thomas [centre] has played in one game and scored one try for National 1's Chinnor this season
©David Howlett

Despite having lost to France last time out, England’s hopes of winning the U20s Six Nations Championship is well and truly alive.

Results would need to go their way, a bonus point win over an Ireland team which has been truly dominant the entire campaign is and the requirement of bottom-place Wales to better France in Oyonnax seems unlikely.

Starting his fifth game in a row for Alan Dickens’ side is hooker, Finn Theobald-Thomas. At 19, the front-row has contributed significantly to his team’s success these recent weeks, although last time out at the Recreation Ground will have no doubt been a sobering experience.

Beaten 7-42 in Bath, it means that the Six Nations is Ireland’s to lose. Hosting this weekend’s fixture in Cork, Richie Murphy’s side riding the wave of a dominant 7-82 victory over Scotland in Glasgow, the quality of this young Irish side apparent for all to see.

For Theobald-Thomas, he will no doubt look back at this tournament with immense pride. Last year, the teenager playing in four matches for England U20s last season, with just the one start, his rise to undisputed starter a signal of the youngster’s personal growth.

“You can’t really ask for much more than that,” the Wolverhampton-born hooker said. “Last year, learning, being at the U20s, as well as it being my first year in a professional environment, it was more like learning from the people I was around.

“I’d say last year I was a bit hot-headed. This year I have calmed down and channelled it a bit more and one of my main goals was to start most, if not all, the games this year. That’s just mainly down to doing the basics and doing them at 100 per cent.”

Where did that need to stop being so hot-headed come from?

“I had a chat with Dicko about it a bit last year,” Theobald-Thomas said. “About taking a breath and just taking that second to either calm down or think about what I am going to say or what I am going to do, rather than just running around like a headless chicken.

“Different things, channelling it a bit, doing it in the right areas, right moments and saying the right things.”

It is safe to say that Theobald-Thomas has an edge. That edge sets him apart from plenty of others, the hooker confrontational in plenty that he does and is proud of it.

There is even a photo on one of his social media accounts where in a preseason match for Stourbridge, the front-row found himself on the end of some blows from his opposition.

Joking that he “didn’t realise it had happened” at the time, Theobald-Thomas is certainly not one to shy away, the hooker capable of lighting a fire within his teammates thanks to that confrontational attitude.

Over the years, Theobald-Thomas has channelled that natural aggression in different ways. A regular at his local boxing gym for much of teens as rugby bubbled away in the background, his mentor Conah Walker now a full-fledged professional in his own right with an 11-1-1 record.

His major idols growing up were the likes of Tyson Fury and Connor McGregor, the duos rise to the top of their respective sports something which Theobald-Thomas has plenty of admiration for and aspires to in some ways.

Currently playing his club rugby for Gloucester, it has been a tumultuous 2022/23 campaign for Theobald-Thomas. That can all be linked to the demise of Worcester warriors, the club which launched his career ceasing to exist as the season had barely begun.

“It has been tough, but it sort of gives you that perspective that it could all just go tomorrow,” he said. 

“It can all be taken away. When that’s said, most people think about injuries, but it could be like the club, and it just be the end of it.

“It’s maybe looking at the bigger picture, taking it day by day and giving 100 per cent, because you never know when it could be the end of it.

“This year for Worcester, especially with Dimes in, it was said to be a turning point and it has given me a lot of motivation, because I know there is a few lads that aren’t as lucky as me, to still be in the professional environment.

“It has still given me the motivation a proper crack, because it can be taken away from you at any point. It has gave me a lot of motivation to kick on and just give 100 per cent.”

In his short time out of the game, Theobald-Thomas would go on the tools with his father, Mark, that work taking him to the home of former England scrum-half, Shaun Perry, who would offer his advice.

Before the hooker knew it, he was back in the mix after George Skivington picked up the phone. Making one appearance to date for the Cherry and Whites, some more of Theobald-Thomas’ playing time has come with National 1 club Chinnor.

During his time in professional rugby, Theobald-Thomas has made his ways to numerous clubs on the hunt for experience in men’s club rugby. Stourbridge, Coventry and Nottingham have all been temporary homes as the West Midlander looked to take strides, his father and mother, Joanne, regularly in tow.

Already the next stage of his career has been decided. Moving to Leicester Tigers for next season, it is at Mattioli Woods Welford Road that the 19-year-old will be hoping to stake a claim as a regular in a match day 23.

There he will be reunited with former Worcester teammates Jamie Shillcock and Kyle Hatherall, who have also committed their futures to the current Gallagher Premiership champions.

Having been on the books of the East Midlands club for a time several years ago – in tandem with Worcester – before a move to a school in Shropshire meant that Warriors could snare the hooker.

“To tell you the truth, that’s probably my boyhood club,” Theobald-Thomas said. “Me and my old man had a season ticket there when I was eight or nine.

“We had a season ticket there and I was doing DPP, and when that came along is surprised me quite a bit. It came out of nowhere.

“Me dad was quite chuffed about it from what they said ad quite a decently timed contract, so I can settle down and crack on. It was good.”