Leeds Carnegie will give a debut to University of Leeds student Alex Lozowski this Saturday in their latest British & Irish Cup game at Pontypridd with the 19-year-old player hoping to get his break in professional rugby union having been part of the Chelsea FC academy until he was 16.
The Economics-student will start at Pontypridd having been a travelling reserve on three occasions for the first team already this season. Looking ahead to the game, he said, “I can’t wait, it will be a good experience for me. I did pre-season at the university and got invited down by Mark Luffman to train with the Leeds Carnegie Academy. From there I got the chance to train with first team whenever I can and I am delighted to be involved. I am studying Economics which is quite a lot of hours of study but have been able to get in two or three times a week to train with the first team. I catch up with my weights in the gym at uni and do as much as I can, so far it has gone well.
“I was travelling reserve for the Cup game against Jersey at York and then for the Championship match down at Cornish Pirates. That was a long way to go but I was happy to do it. I was involved last week against Pontypridd as well, and it was a good experience to be around the matchday squad. To see how things go on the day was invaluable. I now know what that experience is like and it will not completely shock me on the day on Saturday,” added the full back.
Lozowski is the son of former Wasps and England centre Rob Lozowski, who gained his only cap for England against the Grand Slam-winning Australians in 1984 on the same day that Stuart Barnes, Gareth Chilcott, Nigel Melville and Nigel Redman also made their England debuts. Alex was a member of Wasps Academy until moving to Leeds last year to study at the University of Leeds but a broken leg put his rugby career temporarily on hold. He says his dad is hoping to get across to South Wales on Saturday to see him in action, he added, “I was on the phone to him yesterday, he is really happy and proud. He was checking up on his dates and I think I have beat him just to make my debut younger than him. I have got a long way to go to live up to what he did in his career, he was at Wasps his whole career and played for England. I only turned to rugby after my time at Chelsea ended. I was spotted playing for Wasps amateurs and they asked me to train with their academy but when I decided to go to university that ended for me. I picked up playing rugby again when I got to Leeds but never really thought it would be something I would take up as a career.”
Lozowski was in the same Chelsea Academy side as Great Britain sprinting sensation Adam Gemili and he admits that the chance to pursue a professional sporting career is a second chance that he wants to grab with both hands. “The whole football thing meant you had to commit to it fully and forget about your education, that was a risk my family and I were not prepared to take. I wanted to go to university and give myself options, if I can balance both by doing well at uni and progress with my rugby that would be the dream situation but I have to keep my feet on the ground and make sure that I just focus on Saturday.
“I have definitely been spurred on to make the most of my chance when I see my former Chelsea Academy team mates like Adam and Josh McEachran, who is on loan at Middlesbrough, on the television making the most of their opportunities,” added Lozowski.
The full back is now set to follow in the footsteps of his university team mate Pierce Phillips and make his first team debut against Pontypridd. Second row Phillips made his debut off the bench in Sunday’s narrow defeat to Pontypridd and could be set to start at Sardis Road this week. Lozowski added, “Me and Pierce are great mates, we were supposed to be living together this year. I should say a big thanks to him for this because he drives me to training. It will be nice if we can start the game together and it is good for all the guys in the uni team, hopefully we can do them proud.”