Arundell is England’s fairytale story of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Just over a year after making his senior international debut against Australia, where he scored a brilliant try with his first touch of the ball, the Racing 92 fullback is setting the World Cup on fire, helping England on its way to top spot in Pool D. While he found himself a shock exclusion from the England squad for a final pool match against Samoa, with Borthwick opting instead for the more defensively minded Joe Marchant, Arundell has already won the hearts of the England faithful, establishing himself as one to watch for the remainder of the tournament.
Henry Arundell has arrived, making a name for himself on the biggest stage of them all, but where did he come from?
The 20-year-old has undergone a dizzying ascent through world rugby in recent seasons. Born on a British military base in Cyprus and raised in the UK, he joined London Irish academy from Harrow School at 14, debuting for the senior side against Saracens in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November of 2021 after turning down a scholarship offer to play rugby at Yale University. He won his debut match by a score of 29-20 and hasn’t looked back. Following on from his early success in the top flight of English rugby, Arundell gained a reputation as a powerful runner and solid defender, scoring a rash of long range solo tries in his first professional appearances across the back three.
A successful two-year career in Twickenham saw Arundell record 50 points in 23 league appearances before London Irish’s rocky finances saw the team fold, forcing him into a move to Paris’ Racing 92, a transfer which could have major implications for his international career.
While a career in French rugby may sound appealing at face value, there are some pretty significant drawbacks, particularly for an international contender. The £200,000 per year salary and opportunity to train alongside rugby’s top talents will surely be tempting, though scheduling conflicts could prevent Arundell from joining England’s planned 2024 summer tour of New Zealand, which will play host to a hugely important test series. A return to the Premiership would likely secure his short-term future in Borthwick’s plans.
While Arundell is yet to debut for his new side, English rugby's prodigal son is already planning a return to the UK, with Bath and Gloucester the first teams to have expressed interest. Should he continue to impress at international level, though, it is reasonable to expect that some of world rugby’s heavyweights could eye up a move, as Arundell is fast establishing himself as the game’s next big thing.