A RUGBY player who got his start in Kendal received his first senior competitive cap for England in their close-fought victory over Argentina.

Mark Wilson, who also plays for Newcastle Falcons, started his rugby career at Kirkbie Kendal school, before playing for Penrith and Kendal.

The flanker, 27, was not initially featured in Eddie Jones' squad, however benefitted from other players being ruled out by a Lions call up, suspension and injury.


Wilson was called up after he was the top tackler in the Aviva Premiership for the third season running in the Opta stats, and was shortlisted for Premiership Player of the Season.

Director of rugby at Kendal, Steve Whitehead, said: "Mark put in a great performance against Argentina. He did what he does best, which is cover a lot of ground and do a lot of work.

"Some of the turnovers he did were crucial, especially when Argentine were hitting England's line hard.

"He should be proud of his first performance, as should we. He has worked really hard to get where he is. He has overcome a lot of challenges and it is great to see things go so well for him."

Dean Barker is head of PE at Kirkbie Kendal school, and coached Wilson from the age of 11.

Mr Barker said: "It is very exciting. To have anybody representing the country as a full international is massive for the school.

"To play against Argentina is a huge achievement. I am delighted for him.

"He has come from outside and worked his socks off and impressed them so much that he got himself into the starting team.

"He has always been like that. He's always worked really hard and been very focused. From the age of 13 he always wanted to be a professional rugby player."

Mark was coached in Cumbria by both Mr Barker and Nick Elleray, before he played for Kendal and later went professional.

He worked his way up through the ranks in Newcastle, going to university there so he could prove himself after he was not initially offered a contract when he turned 18.

He trained as if he was professional, without pay, until the Falcons offered him his first contract.

Mr Barker added: "He's an absolutely top bloke. We are still in touch and he was delighted. He has the best attitude. He has a work ethic that is second to none.

"I use him as a role model for the boys in my rugby teams."