Jacob Stockdale On How He Very Nearly Quit Rugby

Growth spurt.

Ireland and Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale has revealed that he very nearly quit rugby when he was 15, because of his size. These days he’s 6ft 3in and over 16 stone, but that wasn’t always the case.

When he was 15, Stockdale was just 5ft 5in, and one of the smallest guys in his year. He stopped going to training as he just wasn’t enjoying himself any more.

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In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Stockdale says only for his coach, and the fact that he miraculously grew a foot in six months, he wouldn’t be playing rugby right now.

“By fourth year I was one of the smallest guys in my year,” he recalled.

“I was around 5ft 5ins. At around 14 or 15, I stopped going to training because I wasn’t enjoying it. I was in in the ‘B’ team and didn’t have any interest in it.”

“But my coach at Wallace, Derek Suffern, was really influential in encouraging me to come back to training. I can remember coming on in an Under-15 match against Portadown and thinking this is just not for me.”

When went into fifth form (Under-16), he was still playing for his school’s third or fourth XVs. But he grew almost a foot in six months before entering the lower sixth – and as they say, the rest is history.

“I played every game for the first XV that season and was called up into Ulster and Irish Schools side,” he says. 

Remarkably, within five years he had made his Ireland debut. Not bad at all.