Toby Knight's progression has gained him recognition at both club and international level
It’s fair to say that Toby Knight has been enjoying the 2021/22 season more than most, and his notable progression has gained him recognition at club and international level.
The 20-year-old has not only featured twice for the Saracens first team, but his performances got him a call up to the England Under 20’s squad.
"I loved it so if I did a good job for the boys that’s all that matters!" Toby Knight
Not satisfied with a place in the starting line-up, he was also given the honour of captaining his country in their Under 20’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, a moment that will stay with the back-rower for the rest of his life.
“It was an amazing honour and really special for me personally. It wasn’t expected of course but hopefully I did everything. I loved it so if I did a good job for the boys that’s all that matters!” Said Knight.
Knight, who was formerly of Berkhamsted School graduated to the Saracens Senior Academy, scored in Edinburgh to cap off what was a brilliant night for the flanker.
“It was the dream start and couldn’t have gone any better. It was a good performance and a really special atmosphere so it’s given us all a taste of playing at the top level. I have loved every second of it so far. It has reminded me of when you are just playing with your mates, we’re having such a good time.”
However, as a young player learning the highs and lows of professional sport, the defeat to Italy the following week meant he was brought back down to earth quickly.
“We have learnt a harsh lesson from that game. Maybe there was a bit of complacency but there definitely won’t be moving forward. It was a tough one to take but we’ll be looking to bounce back in the coming weeks.”
Those coming weeks include an exciting occasion for both Saracens and England Under 20’s, as StoneX Stadium opens its doors to international rugby for the first time with England hosting Ireland on Saturday March 12th.
For a young Saracen, that provides an exciting opportunity to impress on both fronts and Knight admitted he is desperate to be involved.
“It will probably be our hardest game but hopefully the home advantage will help us. I can’t wait to run out at StoneX, it will definitely mean a lot to us Sarries guys if we’re selected. My family will all be coming down and I bet there will be a great buzz around the place.”
Knight, who is in the squad alongside fellow academy members Francis Moore and Alex Wardell says that to be recognised with other Saracens players makes it extra special.
“We’ve grown up through the age grade system together at Sarries and that definitely makes it even better. I live with Francis so to see him getting a chance against Italy as well was amazing!
It has definitely spurred something inside of me and confirmed my love for the game. I’ve had a bit of freedom to throw myself in to it and I’m just really excited for what is to come!”
You only have to glance at some of the star-studded names in the Saracens squad to see how much the Under 20’s programme can help young players develop, and Knight is hoping to emulate their success.
“When you look at those boys there are no better people to look up to. You just have to follow their approach, it’s not always the conversations but the little things, watching them train and how they apply themselves. Their drive and hunger is amazing and it really inspires us.”
The exciting back-rower has plenty of role models to learn from at Saracens, and if he is to reach his potential then he could become a household name in years to come.