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Theo Dan: The King’s Student Playing for England

News Editor Daisy Eastlake discusses the success of Theo Dan, a KCL PPE student, who has been called up to the England squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France.

One moment he’s in Bush House, the next it’s Stade de France. KCL’s own Theo Dan, a second year Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) student, has been included in Steve Borthwick’s 33-man England Rugby World Cup squad. Playing as a hooker for Saracens since September 2021, his selection for this year’s World Cup in France cements his elite status.

Born in Herne Hill, London, Theo began playing rugby at age 5, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. He comes from Romanian parentage and is technically qualified to play for both nations, although he has stated that “playing for England was [his] dream”. Starting out playing centre, he was encouraged to switch to the front row in 2016 and hasn’t looked back since. Playing as hooker at Saracens lead to much success for Theo, including leading Saracens to victory in the 2023 Premiership final after teammate Jamie George suffered a concussion from a collision with Tom Curry in the tenth minute. Theo went on to finish the match, including a “title-winning intervention” in the 74th minute.

Theo has since made his debut for England in their 20-9 defeat against Wales on 5 August 2023. The Rugby World Cup commences with France v New Zealand on 8 September, with the first England game being the day after. They kick off against Argentina at 8pm in the Stade Velodrome, Marseille.

Theo Dan is the least experienced player selected by Borthwick in the England squad, so the underdog has a lot to prove in the championship ahead. Balancing a Russell Group workload alongside a Premiership – and now, international – level career will never be easy. But Theo has had a strong and explosive career thus far, growing from relative obscurity into the famous red-rosed uniform in what has felt like five minutes. His swift arrival into the England picture should not undermine the lifetime of dedication that Theo has given to the sport.

The silver lining of an early English collapse out of the World Cup? Theo will have plenty of time to catch up with his readings.

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