Connect with us

European Rugby

From a pasty shop to the Champions Cup semi-finals: The rise of Luke Northmore

Harlequins centre Luke Northmore hasn’t had the typical route into professional rugby. 

The centre only began playing the sport at 15 for Tavistock RFC in Devon, but he really took off at Cardiff Met University.

His form in BUCS Super Rugby earned him a deal with Harlequins, following in the footsteps of fellow Archer Alex Dombrandt. He has quickly gone onto become one of the best centres in the Premiership and is now preparing for a Champions Cup semi-final.

It is certainly a far cry from his old part-time job in a pasty shop, and he’s fully aware of the journey he’s been on.

“I mean when you finally sit back and reflect and talk about a European semi-final is amazing. To be from a small town in Devon, then go to uni and for it all work out the way; I’m reflecting on that is massive and I’m really excited.”

Northmore was a mainstay in Quins’ title winning side in 2021, and he also earned a call-up to England’s Six Nations squad back in 2022.

Just as things began to go on an upwards trajectory for the young back, he picked up a nasty string of injuries. In the past two seasons, he has made just 20 appearances (13 in 22/23 and 7 in 23/24), a total he made in the 21/22 season alone.

“The last few years since the final have been a bit up and down,” he said. “those weeks of watching the boys put an amazing performance out was great to see; but it was also quite tough at the same time, because I really wanted to be out and involved.”

Luke Northmore on playing with the backs around him

Luke Northmore in action-Credit: IMAGO

Luke Northmore in action-Credit: IMAGO

Northmore is just one part of a star-studded backline at the Stoop. The likes of Marcus Smith, Tyrone Green, Danny Care, Louis Lynagh and Cadan Murley all form a deadly back division for the Londoners, which Northmore says is amazing to play in.

“It’s amazing. when you have the likes of Marcus and Andre, Tyrone, Caden all to play in and around and off it makes makes our lives a little bit easier. Marcus can do magic with the ball in his hands and DC likewise. It’s amazing.”

One player Northmore will know better than the rest is his centre partner Andre Esterhuizen. The pair quickly built a devastating partnership during their Premiership title run, and Northmore was full of praise for the experienced Springbok.

“The consistency and the front football that Andre gives you and and the physical presence takes the load off the rest of us, he goes through a hell of a lot of work every week.”

Competition in the squad

Will Joseph-Credit: IMAGO

Whilst Northmore was dealing with his injury struggles, some new faces have broken into his favoured position in the form of Will Joseph and Oscar Beard.

Joseph joined the club this summer following the collapse of London Irish, and despite dealing with his own injury issues was a real force in the early season. Beard too has quickly shown himself as one of the best up-and-coming centres in the Premiership, and his club form earned him a spot in the England Six Nations squad. He also made an appearance for England A in their 91-5 win over Portugal.

They might all be competing for the same spot, but Northmore was quick to praise his fellow number 13’s.

“With the addition of Will Joseph this year, I think we (Northmore and Beard) knew we were going to have a huge amount of competition. Those two lads have been amazing throughout the season and [the competition between us is] something that  we can continue to build going forward.”

He added: “Looking at Toulouse, they have a star-studded squad that’s three or four [players] deep that can go in and play in all competitions. As a club we definitely need to build that as well.”