Mitchell enjoys home comforts with England Counties XV
THERE will be few prouder men when England Counties XV take on Ireland Clubs XV at Darlington Mowden Park’s Northern Echo Arena on Friday February 21 (7.30pm) than the host club’s captain Cameron Mitchell.
The 21-year-old Northumbria University student won his first Counties XV cap in the one point defeat by France Federale XV in Nevers last month and will have the honour of making his home debut in familiar surroundings.
“I was involved in the game over in Nevers which was the first time that I had played for the Counties and it was probably the best experience of my life,” Mitchell said.
“But playing at my home ground in front of family, friends and a big crowd is going to be even better.
“It’s a big ground but there is always a great atmosphere at the Northern Echo Arena because the noise echoes around the stadium.
“There was a big crowd at Nevers but ticket sales for Friday are going well so it’s likely that we will have the biggest crowd that I will have played in front of.
“I’m very proud to be captain of a club as ambitious as Mowden Park but to have the chance to represent my country on my home ground is going to be a great honour.”
Mitchell is one of two Darlington Mowden Park players in the England Counties XV squad along with lock Pierce Phillips, who was an unused replacement in the defeat in France.
Mitchell, a centre, played divisional rugby for the North Under 16s, where he shared a room with George Ford and played against Owen Farrell, and also at Under 20 level.
But he thought that the opportunity to represent his country had disappeared until he was selected to represent the England Counties XV, the representative flagship of the community game in England, in France.
“As a young boy you dream of playing for your country and I thought that the opportunity had gone having missed out at age group level,” Mitchell said.
“But the whole experience of playing against France was unbelievable. It’s difficult to describe the emotions you feel when you are handed a shirt with a red rose on it in the changing rooms, walking out into a packed ground to represent your country and then lining up to sing the national anthem.
“It makes you feel very proud of yourself and of your team-mates and it’s such an emotional experience.”
There will be plenty of familiar faces to support Mitchell at the Northern Echo Arena on Friday with friends from university, where he is studying estate management, and family from North Yorkshire in the crowd.
He will also have a message of good luck from Harlequins scrum-half Sam Stuart, a friend from Sedbergh School in Cumbria.
“Sam had hoped to get up to Darlington to watch the game but he has commitments with Harlequins so he won’t be able to make it,” Mitchell said.
“But we go back a long way and he sent me a good luck message before I played against France and he has sent me another one ahead of the Ireland match.”