James Botham to make Wales debut as family sporting tradition lives on
Grandson of former England cricket legend Ian will start in the backrow against Georgia
James Botham, the grandson of former England cricketer Ian Botham, will makes his Wales debut against Georgia on Saturday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
The 22-year-old Cardiff Blues flanker was called up to Wales’ Nations Cup squad on Monday and he has played just 13 professional games.
But Cardiff-born Botham, whose father Liam played rugby union and rugby league for a number of clubs, is among three newcomers selected to face Georgia alongside Scarlets backs Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy.
Wales coaching staff had already identified Botham as a player of possible 2023 World Cup potential, but his chance has come far sooner than expected.
And he is the latest international rugby player off the production line at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, with Botham’s fellow former pupils including ex-England captain Will Carling, World Cup-winning England centre Will Greenwood and current Wales prop Tomas Francis.
Former London Irish and Newcastle centre Williams, meanwhile, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy before returning to professional rugby 10 months ago.
He represented England and scored a try in a non-cap game against the Barbarians in 2019, but qualifies for Wales through his father, who hails from Rhyl.
WALES (v Georgia): L Williams (Scarlets); J McNicholl (Scarlets), N Tompkins (Dragons), J Williams (Scarlets), L Rees-Zammit (Gloucester); C Sheedy (Bristol), K Hardy (Scarlets); W Jones (Scarlets), E Dee (Dragons), S Lee (Scarlets); J Ball (Scarlets), S Davies (Cardiff Blues); J Botham (Cardiff Blues), J Tipuric (Ospreys, capt), A Wainwright (Dragons).
Replacements: S Parry (Ospreys), N Smith (Ospreys), L Brown (Dragons), C Hill (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), R Webb (Ospreys), I Lloyd (Bristol), J Holmes (Dragons).