How a man-of-the-match display and a ‘worldy’ try set Alex Mitchell on his way to possible Premiership glory

After representing England at the World Cup, the Premiership final could wrap up a season to remember for Mitchell
©Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

This Saturday, the storied turf of Twickenham will host the Gallagher Premiership final and among Northampton Saints' key players is scrum-half Alex Mitchell.

His journey from Lymm RFC in the North-West of England to this grand stage is a testament to his talent, dedication, and development during his formative years.

TRU’s Ciara Fearn spoke to Adam Fletcher, Director of Rugby at Lymm RFC, about Mitchell's rise and the immense pride felt by the club. 

At just six years old, Mitchell's journey began at Lymm, a club known for nurturing young talent. According to Fletcher, they always knew the Northampton Saints No.9 was destined for greatness.

“I was aware of him through our mini and junior section at a young age along with his older brother James,” Fletcher reminisces. “They were quite the superstars growing up, especially Alex. Despite his early promise, Alex remained grounded and energetic, qualities that endeared him to his coaches and teammates alike.

"He was quite quiet but energetic. My first real role with him was in Year 13 when he was coming out of high school. He played one game for our first team as a senior player when I was coach, and it was a pretty special game. He got man-of-the-match and scored a worldy try. We knew then we'd probably never have Alex playing for our first team again!”

Mitchell's impact was felt beyond just this one game, though. He played for the senior colts that season and was instrumental in their North Champions Trophy win, scoring four tries before half-time against Wharfedale. This performance solidified his reputation as a rising star.

A Source of Pride for Lymm

Mitchell's achievements - most notably becoming Steve Borthwick’s first-choice scrum-half for England - is obviously not lost on those connected to the Cheshire club.

"We've had a few players go on to play professionally and internationally, like Ross Harrison and David Strettle,” Fletcher explains. “Alex being at the top of his game for Northampton and England is great for us.

“The whole club is massively proud of him. I know going through the whole mini and junior section, quite a lot of coaches and people still involved in the club now remember Alex fondly and have followed his career.

“As a result of that, there was a whole heap of us out in Marseille for England vs Argentina in the World Cup to support England and Alex. It was great to see a massive contingent from Lymm out there.”

A Humble Star

Despite his success, Mitchell remains grounded and when possible, he visits and stays in touch with friends and coaches from his early days at Lymm. "He's modest and knows how to enjoy himself,” Fletcher continues. “He had a good upbringing, which keeps him well-grounded.

“I’ve not seen Alex for a while but my memories of him are pretty well grounded, he’s a good lad. Quite a few of Alex’s friends still play at the club. He still comes to the area in Lymm and socialises with those guys. 

“I know he speaks via messages with quite a few of the people who have coached him over the years. I’m pretty sure he will keep tabs on how we’re doing and what’s going on in Lymm.”

The Northampton Connection

The conclusion of the 2014/15 season saw Mitchell move from Lymm and link up with Northampton’s academy. 

In that particular campaign, due to representing Sale Sharks and England at age-grade level, his only league appearance for Lymm came against Billingham on the final day of the National Three North season.

According to the club website: “Alex turned the hitherto closely fought encounter on its head scoring an outrageous try from halfway, dummying his way through the whole of the Billingham side and confusing the crowd as well. A brilliant try which only he could have scored.”

And it is that quick-thinking, his speed of ball and his ability to manipulate defenders which has seen Mitchell become so crucial to Northampton on their journey to a first Premiership final in a decade.

And Fletcher is quick to praise the synergy between Mitchell and Northampton’s attack coach, Sam Vesty. "Watching Northampton play, their high-tempo, multi-phase attacking game suits Alex perfectly. His speed, quick-thinking, and ability to exploit gaps are what make him exceptional. His box kicking is improving, but it is his running game and handling skills that set him apart.

“His speed of thought, ability to spot and exploit gaps, and his precise handling skills are crucial to Northampton’s game plan on Saturday.

"If I were Bath, I'd try to slow the ball down because if Alex gets quick front-foot ball, he's incredibly dangerous. I’d be putting a lot of pressure on that breakdown area to slow him down.”

Mitchell will be up against Bath’s Ben Spencer on Saturday, with the latter’s superb kicking game and his knack for finding territory key attributes. 

With that in mind, Saints’ No.9 will need to bring his A-game once again if Northampton are to secure their first title since 2014. Mitchell’s recent performances have shown he's more than capable. In the semi-final against Saracens, his man-of-the-match performance was instrumental in getting Phil Dowson’s troops to Twickenham.

"If Northampton win, Alex will likely be close to getting man-of-the-match again. His partnership with Fin Smith [Saints’ No.10] will be pivotal,” Fletcher adds.

A Community United

The Lymm community is buzzing with excitement for the final. Although Fletcher will be watching from home or at the club, a contingent from Lymm will be at Twickenham to support their hometown hero.

"It's ultra special to see one of our lads playing in a Premiership final and also Curtis Langdon who coached here for a couple of years. If Northampton win, it will be even better," Fletcher, who recently led Lymm to a 10th-place finish in National Two North, beams.

“We are all incredibly proud of Alex. Seeing Alex lift the title would be the ultimate testament to his journey and the support from his roots in Lymm."

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?

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