Ollie Dawe is a young man who has already tasted success at such a tender age, World Cup Finalist and Grand Slam winner, but is still looking forward to achieving much more in the game.
From fairly humble beginnings, Ollie played at both Withycombe RFC and Exmouth RFC in the South West, he found himself at Bicton College and was quickly snapped up by Exeter Chiefs Academy.
Although an enjoyable time for him things didn’t quite work out and National League 1 side Plymouth Albion soon came knocking on his door. During the 2015/16 season Ollie played 23 first team games for Albion and firmly established himself as one of the strongest loose head’s in the League. Getting so much exposure on the pitch at Plymouth certainly enhanced his all round game, something he always acknowledges, and he also praised Head Coach Graham Dawe (no relation!) for his input too.
We caught up with Ollie after training at his new club, ex Premiership outfit Bristol, where he praised his former mentor. “Graham was a great influence on my scrummaging technique. Having someone with such experience in the game to coach you has helped me learn a lot of the little things that can make you more effective in the front row, something you need at this level”. It was while at Plymouth that he got the offer from Bristol Academy to move up the M5.
“I thought long and hard about it, Plymouth were amazing to me and I will always be grateful to them for what they did for me, but the chance to join Bristol was an opportunity I could not turn down.”
He certainly knows what he wants to achieve with Bristol. “I haven’t come here just to chill out and enjoy the ride. This is a big club with big ambitions and I want to help them get back to the Prem. I have some great role models to emulate that were here before me, especially the likes of Ellis Genge who has gone from strength to strength in his career and Jamal Ford-Robinson who has now at Northampton. My aim is to train as hard as I can in pre-season and hope to get as much game time as I can next season. I have already had a good chat with Pat Lam (Bristol’s new Head Coach) and hopefully he will like what I am doing and give me the chances to play.”
The future certainly looks bright for the young man but Bristol being relegated has not dampened his enthusiasm or determination.
“Playing in the Premiership is not the be all and end all for a young prop like myself. Hopefully we can have a good run in the Championship and get ourselves back in the big league. Getting as much experience as I can at this level is what it’s all about for me and hopefully I will be that much fitter and stronger and able to compete better in the Premiership. I want to do all I can to help Bristol get promoted as soon as possible.”
Bristol Academy Manager, Mike Hall, told us “Ollie has done exceptionally well since entering the Academy 12 months ago. Mark Irish was impressed with the way in which he scrummaged for Plymouth Albion in National 1, so we decided to offer him an opportunity within the Bristol set-up, one which he has grabbed with both hands. He has worked hard across the season developing himself physically and technically. For him to be an ever present in the 6 Nations Grand Slam winning team, get nominated to team of the tournament and then play his part in helping England to the final of the JRWC, is testament to the work he has put in.
Seeing him make his 1st Premiership appearance off the bench against Saracens in the final game of the season, was pleasing for all of the Academy staff. You never know whether players are going to be able to step-up to the required level or not, seeing him take on the likes of Jamie George and Maro Itoje and not take a backward step bodes well for his future progression this coming season”.
Full time professional rugby can be all encompassing but Ollie knows how to switch off. “I really love my rugby, I love being involved at a professional level and being around all the other lads at the club.
However, sometimes it’s good to have other interests and for me it is cricket. I played when I was younger and still have mates who play locally. I also play a lot of golf with the academy lads which helps us relax.
I have a good circle of friends outside the game and being around them helps keep me down to earth and grounded. Bristol is a great city to live in and I am very happy to be here.”
Ollie is certainly one to watch for the future. He is a formidable loose head prop at 6’2”and 110kg. His already impressive record speaks for itself at International level having represented England at U17, U18 and U20 where he played in every game and helped his country win the Grand Slam in 2017.
The bitter disappointment of losing to the All Blacks in the U20 World Cup final recently will soon be put to bed as his focus turns fully to the season ahead.