By Eddie McAteer, Sports Editor
As a professional rugby player for Bristol Bears, Will Capon could be forgiven for solely focusing on his rugby – after all, he has been tipped as the ‘next Jamie George’. However, the up-and-coming hooker combines professional rugby with a law degree, proving that not only is he effective on the pitch, but also off it.
Bristol born and bred, Capon is living the dream of many a Bristolian by playing for a table-topping, star-studded Bears team. Since making his debut in 2018, he has gone on to establish himself in the first team squad and has seen the club go from strength to strength.
Capon entered the world of rugby for the first time at the age of seven when he joined Winscombe RFC. A few years later, he started at Bristol Grammar School where he took up school rugby to compliment playing at his club. Before long, he was noticed by Bristol Bears and took the first step towards professional rugby by joining their DPP (Developing Player Programme).
From then on it has all happened quite quickly for Capon. After joining the academy aged 13, he represented England at U16, U18 and U20 and it was at U16 level that he started to think, ‘Wow this [going professional] could really be on the cards.’
Capon duly made his debut for the then-championship club at the tender age of 18, before making his Premiership debut against Exeter Chiefs. Coming onto the pitch late, his lineout throw helped set up the platform for an historic away victory against a side that had reached the tournament’s final in the previous season.
Away from the melting-pot of professional rugby, the front-rower is also studying law at the University. As you can imagine, it would be rather a big ask to do a regular law degree and play Premiership rugby at the same time. Instead, Capon’s three-year course is spread over five years. His six first year modules were split evenly across two years, but he has since increased to four modules a year.
Shocking as it may sound, Bristol Bears would rather you didn’t attend Lounge before a game
Law is a time-consuming degree and for Capon, ‘Time management is a pretty key thing.’ He highlighted the fact that rugby players are in the fortunate position of finishing the day relatively early, meaning there are opportunities to study, ‘You just need to find where they are.’ Equally important is having a good support network. Living with two fellow law students he feels that he has that network as they can bounce ideas off each other and help each other academically.
With so much on his plate, it goes without saying that the young hooker’s student experience (especially the clubbing scene) differs somewhat to that of the majority of Bristol students. Shocking as it may sound, Bristol Bears would rather you didn’t attend Lounge on the Friday before a game. Nonetheless, when the opportunity for a (sober) night out does present itself, Capon feels that attending pres whilst sober is where you have ‘The best conversations.’ He may miss out on a couple of hours of clubbing, but Capon has his own system that works well for him.
For those of you who do not know Bristol Bears, they are one of the most exciting teams in English rugby and have a couple of blockbuster names in the squad. Charles Piutau, Semi Radradra and Kyle Sinckler are amongst the most recognisable. Sinckler especially is known for his excellent handling as a front-rower, and this is a trait that Capon hopes will rub off on him too. He said, ‘I’m not quite as slick as him but hopefully in a few years I can try and imitate his performance.’
In the team’s ranks is another fellow law student and Bristol alumnus, Dave Attwood, who is studying to become a barrister. Attwood, like Capon, came through the Bristol academy and played for them whilst studying at the University. The parallels between their courses mean that they’re often talking about similar topics and provides Capon with another law-based support network, this time at the club itself.
When I asked him about the future he remained as humble as expected. With Bears, the dream is to win the league this year, but he is wary of the quality of other teams in the competition. On a personal level, he said is aiming to ‘Earn my place in the 23’ with his short-term goals remaining the priority.
Despite being touted to make the cut at international level by Rugby World, Capon is clearly not getting ahead of himself. Anything can happen in sport, especially in rugby, but the Bristol Bear is keeping his head down both academically and professionally.
Featured Image: JMPUK
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