Stepping into the Bath Rugby Academy fold this season is strapping back Harry Davies – all 6’4” of him.
The 21-year-old spent his fledgling rugby career in Wales’s capital city, both with Cardiff RFC in the Welsh Premiership and their regional counterparts, Cardiff Blues.
“I started playing when I was about six or seven years old with my local team, Llantrisant RFC,” Davies says of the Rhondda team known to locals as the Black Army. Valleys rugby is in the blood, it seems, with Davies’s father having turned out as a flanker for Pontypridd back in the day.
He continues: “I played all the way up through the age grades into youth rugby, then got picked up by Cardiff Blues when I was about 17.”
Davies’s abilities from the backline were enough to garner the attention of the Wales Sevens senior management, who invited him into their training camp.
“Sevens definitely helped me develop my game,” he says. “I was around the Wales Sevens squad for a while, and the exposure it gave me helped bring on my game. I competed in a few tournaments in Europe, so it was a good step up.”
Despite his young years, Davies had already earned his spurs in the Welsh Premiership, where he was first spotted by the Bath Rugby Academy coaches. “I was playing for Cardiff against Aberavon when they came to see me, and I guess that game went alright!” Davies admits since, after all, he now finds himself at Farleigh House. “In the Welsh Prem, you can play in some harsh conditions week in, week out, and you’re coming up against some big players. It’s a tough learning ground but you improve a lot.”
Comfortable at wing or fullback, at Cardiff he found himself training and competing with another player of equal physical stature: Alex Cuthbert. “We have similar frames and play in the same position," he says, "so it was good to have the experience of a Wales and Lions international like him around.”
As one of the Class of 2016/17 at the Club, Davies is among the cohort of new players currently living together. At the moment, he counts Elliott Stooke, David Sisi, Kahn Fotuali’i and Sid Blackmore as housemates.
He has the pleasure of rooming with Academy teammate Blackmore, also from South Wales. “I got put in the only room with two single beds. The first fortnight was okay because there was no one there, so I pushed the beds together to make a double bed,” says Davies, before adding, “and then Sid moved in. I’d never met him before, he just turned up one day and that was it. He trains in his kit all day, then just leaves it in a pile at the end of his bed, which reeks.”
House hijinks are the norm, although some are self-inflicted, such as when Davies told his housemates he would bleach his hair like Aaron Ramsey if the Welsh football team beat Belgium at Euro 2016. The result: Davies now sports a shock of peroxide-blonde hair.
The serious work has already begun, however, with pre-season training now heating up. He admits: “It was going into the unknown a little bit for me. I’ve done pre-seasons before, but every team approaches it differently. I got sent the schedule a couple of weeks before it started, though, which gave me a chance to get into the swing of things.”
“It’s been structured really well. We didn’t start flat out from day one, but now it’s really ramped up in the past week or two. There was a lot of weights to start with, but now there’s a lot more rugby training to go with that, and plenty of running.”
Put simply, Davies is taking every opportunity as it comes. “I see pre-season as a chance to get to know the rest of the boys. I want to stake a claim for myself, get comfortable with everything, learn my role and push on from there.”