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In conversation with George B, Barney’s ‘rhino’ in the making

05 Jun 2024

Following a stellar debut for Leeds Rhinos Under-18s, the future is bright for aspiring Rugby League star George B.

A member of Barney’s Lower Sixth, George enjoyed a dominant, destructive day against Wakefield Trinity last month, scoring four tries on debut and causing havoc to the opposition throughout, in a fashion not too dissimilar to a charging rhino in the wild.

Additionally, he has been a mainstay in the School’s 1st XV in his debut season for Barney, having played rugby since the age of four across both codes of the sport (Rugby Union and Rugby League) and previously represented the Leeds Rhinos’ Scholarship squad and Yorkshire Rugby Academy.

Rugby League is now the preferred route for George, who signed a contract with the Rhinos’ Academy this year, managing his Sixth Form studies with training and matchdays, which, impressively, includes training with the Headingley-based club’s first team.

His ambition is to one day wear Leeds’ blue and amber shirt as a first team regular and become a full international, following in the footsteps of Barney’s select few who have represented their country in the sporting sphere.

“Barney is renowned for its rugby and wider sporting prowess, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to join the School, along with the range of opportunities available in the Sixth Form,” explains George.

“Everybody is so personable, and I enjoy good relationships with all my teachers; everyone knows everyone at Barney, which made the transition all the smoother.”

Outside the classroom, George has enjoyed the best of both worlds training dual codes. Having committed to Rugby Union upon joining the School, becoming a first-team regular and excelling in the ‘brown and blue’ of Barney, he is ‘all-in’ for Rugby League and the exciting opportunity that the Rhinos have presented.

Speaking about his recent debut, George continued: “It was a tough game at first as Wakefield ran into a 12-0 lead, but we were able to regroup and get through their defence more. I am enjoying every minute and always looking to improve my game and strive to repay the faith that the Rhinos and coaching staff have shown in me.”

While Barney is renowned and respected for sporting success, specifically Rugby Union, with the School counting former internationals among our alumni, Rugby League is a lesser known entity. George is of the opinion that there is scope for League at the School, however, whether it be training drills or in the longer term, fixtures.

He said: “There are many similarities between both codes, which players can use to their benefit. I have gotten a lot tougher since playing League and this has supported my physicality and tackling, for sure. Being around the first team at Rhinos has also improved my confidence and we have a great group of players at both the academy and here at Barney.”

Despite only joining the School in 2023, George has amassed many memories, namely Barney’s Summer Sports Tour to South Africa last July.

“Meeting everyone and building a rapport with my teammates in South Africa was the perfect introduction to life at Barney,” he explains. “I was fortunate enough to make some really good mates and the brotherhood transcends onto the field. The competition against some tough South African sides as well as all the camaraderie and trips the party enjoyed, made it such an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for a long time.

“We later enjoyed a successful 1st XV season, playing at Mowden Park’s stadium under the lights on two occasions, which was a great experience, and overcoming a strong St Peter’s side away from home was another highlight.”

Counting Sam Burgess, Kevin Sinfield and Johnathan Thurston among his sporting heroes, the late Rob Burrow remains one of George’s biggest inspirations, who achieved so much in the sport with Leeds Rhinos. The entire globe was rocked by the recent passing of Burrow, who fought his battle with Motor Neurone Disease so courageously to the end.

“He was such an inspiration, with a big heart,” says George. “I hope to one day establish myself as a Leeds Rhino and if I am able to enjoy just a fraction of what he achieved throughout his career, that would be amazing.”