‘Biggest rugby fan on earth’: Jamie George vows to honour late mother

<span>Jamie George lost his mother Jane to cancer last Wednesday.</span><span>Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters</span>
Jamie George lost his mother Jane to cancer last Wednesday.Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters

Jamie George has revealed he learned his mum had been diagnosed with cancer on the day he was offered the England captaincy, ­paying her a powerful tribute and vowing to do her proud against Scotland after she passed away last week.

George described his mum, Jane, as “the biggest rugby fan on earth” and explained how England’s opening Six Nations victories against Wales and Italy were the only two of his Test appearances she had missed, as a result of her illness. George said that Jane was diagnosed around seven weeks ago, but that he discovered she was terminally ill with lung ­cancer last Sunday and she died last Wednesday.

The 33-year-old hooker said he had questioned whether to accept the offer of the captaincy until he had discussed it with his family but that his first match in the role was “the proudest day of her life”. George also insisted that he wanted to honour his mum’s memory by continuing to lead England against Scotland rather than take some time off.

Related: Furbank starts as England drop Steward for Scotland challenge in Six Nations

He said: “I found out about her cancer diagnosis on the same day I found out I was going to be England captain, so that was a pretty mixed day. We’ve been going through a lot as a family for a long period. It puts a lot of things in perspective.

“She was the biggest rugby fan on earth, she loved this team, loved watching me play, she never missed a game. The text I’ve got from her before my first game [as captain] is something I will treasure for ever. She said it was the proudest day of her life. Given what she was going through to still be able to put a smile on her face is huge.

“[Playing on Saturday is] what my mum would have wanted. Wherever she is now she will be looking down telling everyone that is there that her son is the England captain. I know for a fact that meant a huge amount to her. Whenever I’ve played, I’ve always wanted to make my family proud. It’s been a huge driver for me.

“That won’t change this weekend – it will probably be enhanced this weekend. It will be emotional for me coming out. It will be the first game that she won’t be there. She wasn’t able to come to the first two games to watch, which has been tough in itself. But my dad [Ian] is coming up, my uncle [Robbie] and both brothers [Gareth and Jonathan].

“Those thoughts [of not playing] go into your mind but it’s not what she would have wanted me to do – it’s actually the last thing she would have wanted me to do. It’s not what I wanted to do. I feel very privileged to do what I do. It’s not an ideal ­situation to be in, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to be involved in this game.

“We were able to have some pretty horrible conversations that no one ever wants to have but there were some amazing conversations I had with my mum towards the end. Those sort of things put everything into perspective.

“When I first became captain, I spoke a lot about showing how much it means to you to play for England and what an amazing impact you can have on people’s lives. I have seen it first-hand. My mum was on her deathbed talking about the ­England rugby team and how proud she was of me being able to do what I do. That’s absolutely incredible. She will be with me in some ­capacity on Saturday and that means a huge amount to me.”

George leads an England side featuring five changes with George Furbank a surprise selection at fullback in place of Freddie Steward, who is dropped from the match-day squad. Ollie Lawrence, Danny Care, Ellis Genge and Dan Cole also come into the side as George seeks to guide England to a first win over Scotland since 2020.

“For me I have wanted to throw myself into this, it has been an ­amazing outlet for me and it is what my mum would want, it is certainly what I want, playing for this team has been the highlight of my life and it always will be,” said George.

“Being able to captain this team is without doubt the highlight of my career and she would have wanted me to throw myself into this. She spoke about how proud she was of me. She wasn’t just proud of my achievements, she was proud of how I have gone about it and that won’t change despite everything that has happened.

“When you get into the arena, when you step on to the field, it’s actually quite a nice feeling to be able to forget everything that has ­happened previously. I want to win for her and I want to win in her ­memory as much as I possibly can but I’m fully aware that Scotland aren’t going to allow us to do that. Regardless of the result, I’m going out there to make her proud, I’m going out there to make the rest of my family in the stands proud too.”