Joe Marler: from student at Heathfield CC to celebrated international rugby star
Photo: RFU Collection via Getty Images
Harry Poole interviews Joe Marler, rugby legend and former student of HCC.
Joe Marler was born on 7 July, 1990, in Eastbourne, East Sussex. You may well know him for being one of the most recognisable faces in England rugby but did you also know that he was once a student at Heathfield Community College? Shortly after he left school, aged just 17, he became a member of the Harlequins Academy and has been a key player for the team ever since. He has played over 60 games on the international stage and is widely considered to be one of the best props internationally. I was lucky enough to be able to interview the man himself to find out more about his experiences, memories of Heathfield and the highlights of his career.
What's been your proudest moment?
Winning my first cap for England was really enjoyable, but I think winning the premiership with Harlequins the second time in 2021 is my proudest moment. The way in which we did it and against all odds was incredible to be a part of.
How do you approach the game? Do you have any special rituals beforehand?
I just try and relax as much as possible, remind myself all the time that I play the game to have fun, I enjoy a laugh and a joke with teammates before a game. One special ritual, I put my socks on the wrong feet! Left on right and right on left, I don’t know why.
What do you focus on during the game itself?
One play at a time. I try to focus on the processes e.g next Lineout, next scrum, next tackle etc. I never think too far ahead, try and stay in the moment, and not worry about the result.
Is it difficult when you have to go on tour?
It’s tough leaving my family for long periods, I miss them a lot. But I also appreciate how lucky I am to play a sport I love in so many different countries so I try and enjoy it as much as possible
What's been your favourite match?
Bristol Away in 2021, premiership semi-final, 28-0 down in the first half and we came back to win it!!!
Where's the most interesting place you've been?
Argentina is incredible! The steak and wine are the best in the world.
How hard was it to get to the top?
It’s pretty hard. If professional sport was easy then everyone would do it.
What's your strongest memory of Heathfield Community College?
Mr. Robinson, the headteacher at the time, walking down the school corridors and everyone stopping in fear and out of respect for him. He was a giant of a man. Hard but fair.
Who was your favourite teacher?
Mr. Moore was inspirational. I loved his enthusiasm and passion for all sports.
What was your favourite moment of school?
When I think back to my school days, there wasn’t one particular thing I could say was my favourite, because it was the everyday memories of having fun and spending time with my friends that I cherish the most. Lunch time everyday was also pretty important to me!
What keeps you in Heathfield?
My wife refuses to move anywhere else! But in all seriousness we love the countryside and the friends we have in the area.
What advice would you give to someone at school who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Believe that you can do it. Hard work will eventually pay off if you want it enough. But you must enjoy the process or there’s no point. We were put on this planet to enjoy ourselves!
Harry Poole, Year 7