England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line returns featuring insightful stories

England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line returns featuring insightful stories from Ben Youngs, Lewis Ludlam, Raffi Quirke and Mark Atkinson from the England camp
Issued by Rugby Football Union

• The hugely popular podcast returns on Tuesday 22 February featuring four of England’s men’s players
• Ben Youngs, Lewis Ludlam, Raffi Quirke and Mark Atkinson feature throughout the series, sharing emotive and personal stories for the first time
• As part of TikTok’s new partnership with the Six Nations, pre-match O2 Inside Line Live will appear exclusively on the social media platform for both the men’s and women’s competition
• England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line will also have four episodes during the TikTok Women’s Six Nations
• Access to the first episode of the podcast with Ben Youngs is available ahead of public release tomorrow

Ahead of England’s game against Wales on Saturday 26 February, the England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line returns for a ninth season during the Guinness Six Nations with four new episodes.

The popular podcast series provides incredible insight into the England camp with players telling their unique stories, in their own words. This includes life experiences away from the pitch that have helped shape and inspire them into the players and individuals that they are today.

All four episodes will be available on Acast and all major podcast providers. Season nine will continue with four episodes featuring the Red Roses which will be released during the TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship which starts on 26 March.

In addition to the podcast, O2 Inside Line Live will, for the first time, be broadcast on England Rugby’s TikTok ahead of the men’s and women’s games during their respective Six Nations. The pre-match show will be 30 minutes, live and interactive, pitch-side at Twickenham helping rugby to reach a young and socially engaged audience.

Post-match O2 Inside Line Live will remain on England Rugby’s YouTube and Facebook pages as three players speak to fans about the game and life in camp. O2 Inside Line Live will also be exclusively on TikTok ahead of the Captain’s Run before the Ireland match, showcasing England’s final match day preparations with Eddie Jones.

England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line episode detail:

Episode 1 (22 February) Ben Youngs: The podcast kicks off on 22 February with Ben Youngs discussing the challenges he faced growing up with dyslexia, something he has in common with both his dad and rugby-playing former England international brother, Tom. Ben opens up about the challenges dyslexia caused at school and how sport provided a much-needed outlet for him. He also goes into depth about his close relationship with Tom and his pride at playing for England with him.

Episode 2 (1 March) Lewis Ludlam: Lewis provides his perspective on the challenges as a mixed-race kid in rugby in a predominately white area and the changing perceptions of rugby. He talks about wanting to be a role model for kids who look like him, and the importance of his dad, and family, in developing him into the person he is today.

Episode 3 (8 March) Raffi Quirke: The scrumhalf discusses the importance of off-field activities, and what it is like to be part of the new generation of England players coming through. A keen triathlete in his younger days, he discusses where the drive for sport came from and also looks at the lighter side of life in camp, including his role at team hairdresser during lockdown and his passion for cooking which he shares on his ‘Pitch to Plate’ Instagram account.

Episode 4 (15 March) Mark Atkinson: At the age of 31, Mark was a relative late comer to the England team and his is a story of late bloomers and maintaining self-belief. He discusses his sadness at the loss of his mother just before his England debut and the importance of never giving up the hope of playing for his country.

Gareth Griffiths, Director, Partnerships and Sponsorship at Virgin Media O2, said: “Amazing access and insight, O2 Inside Line continues to evolve as England players talk first-hand about the challenges they face as professionals. The latest season is an exciting one with content featuring exclusively on TikTok for the first time, including live broadcasts around the Red Roses home games. We want to bring a new and socially engaged audience to England Rugby by showing what it’s like to wear the rose.”

Ewan Turney, RFU Marketing Director, said: “A great story is one told with passion and authenticity. That’s why we gave our podcast platform over to our players to discuss the issues they truly care about, like mental health or climate change, and be vulnerable enough to share personal experiences that helped shape them.

“The first person style will give fans an intimate insight into the diverse range of opinions and backgrounds that make up both the men’s and women’s teams. Fans will see the real people rather than just the player on the pitch. We’re really happy with the way the players have invested in the series and hope fans will be too.

“O2 Inside Line Live is a really popular part of our online match day coverage giving fans a real insight in to the build-up at Twickenham and the action ahead. Taking this flagship programme to TikTok means we can help bring rugby to new, younger and more diverse audiences.”

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