As a central midfielder in Derby County’s junior team, Taylor Gough dreamed of being a big shot in the round ball game. That was before his raw physical tendencies began to shine through and he followed his father’s example by entering the thud and blunder of rugby’s back row
Hid dad played for the famous Vipers club in Blaby, just outside Leicester, but young Taylor quickly gained a reputation at Leicester Forest RFC before being snapped up by the Tigers.
Gough said: “I used to play football as a kid and played in the youth teams at Quorn and Birstall before having trials at Leicester City and Derby. I was part of Derby’s development team around the age of 11 and 12 and whilst I was disappointed not to make it, rugby offered a better option.
“I didn’t actually start playing rugby until I was 14 but my dad used to play for the Vipers and was a big Tigers fan. I actually started watching Leicester from a pretty early age and he always told me Leicester was the best club in the land, so you can imagine how pleased I was to join them.”
Gough added: “I’ve always been a back row – it was also my dad’s position – and although I could also play centre, I preferred getting involved in the nitty-gritty side at Leicester Forest.
“I managed to get on to Leicester’s radar at about 16 when I got to go on one of their academy training days at Stoneygate. A few weeks later I played against Wasps and Northampton and then played in the Wellington festival, after which they gave me an academy contract.”
Gough doesn’t turn 19 until next month but already he is an integral part of their Premiership Shield side whilst turning out for Loughborough Students in National One.
Having been summoned to last month’s England U20s preliminary training camp, Gough narrowly failed to make the cut for the Six Nations squad announced last week.
However, he said: “I was really surprised to get the initial call anyway. I knew nothing about it until one of our S&C coaches congratulated me, so even though I haven’t made the Six Nations squad it’s a good target now, knowing that I’m not a million miles off that team.
“I’ve been playing a lot of Premiership Shield games and enjoyed a lot of good game time at Loughborough in a league full of big men, so although I never played for England U18s, if I could work towards getting a crack with the U20s this year, that would be great.”
Gough makes no bones about his ultimate ambition to become a Tigers back row legend.
He added: “I’m a No.7 and all my dad talked about was Neil Back. I’ve seen quite a bit of him on You Tube and that’s what you’ve got to aspire to. I want to try and reach that world-class level you see from people like Michael Hooper, David Pocock and Richie McCaw.”