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McParland: I just want to keep getting better and better

Archie McParland made his debut for Northampton Saints in last season’s Premiership Rugby Cup campaign – and now, one year on, the scrum-half is beginning to flourish in a Black, Green and Gold shirt.

The 18-year-old – who became Northampton’s youngest-ever player in the professional era when he made his debut at 17 years and 222 days old against London Irish last September – scored his first hat-trick for the Club on Sunday in a 82-12 victory over Doncaster Knights.

McParland got on the end of two marauding runs by Tom Pearson for a couple of his tries, also sniping over himself off the back of a scrum close to the line in-between.

He was also denied a try by the TMO in the first half, after Pearson had been adjudged to have pulled back a Doncaster player in the build-up, and came so close to a fourth after the interval, but was just hauled down short of the line.

“It was a good run out for the boys and good to bounce back from a below par performance last week against Bath,” he said. “We had a lot to improve on from last week’s game, and I thought we put it on the pitch today.

“We had a plan to just keep putting pressure on Doncaster, and I thought we did that. We built well from the first half, and scored lots of tries.”

Archie McParland

“My first try was disallowed, so Tom Pearson promised me to give me another one and he ended up giving me two! He did all the hard work and I just got on the end of it.

“I’ve never ran that much in a game, so it was really tiring, and I nearly did get a fourth but my legs had gone and the defenders caught me up.”

After making his debut as an Under-18 player in last season’s Premiership Rugby Cup competition, McParland signed his first professional contract this summer and joined the Club on a full-time basis.

The young scrum-half played in four of Saints’ five Cup matches, grabbing a try against Cambridge as well as his treble on Sunday, and was named in England Under-20s’ Elite Playing Squad for the 2023/24 season (alongside clubmates Toby Cousins, Craig Wright, Will Glister, Reuben Logan and Henry Pollock) last week.

The Saints Academy starlet has already been capped by England at both Under-18s and Under-19s level, and McParland admits it’s been a whirlwind year.

He said: “It has been crazy, but I’ve just got to keep on building. I can’t take anything for granted, just keep on working hard and getting better each day.

“It’s happening quickly, but the boys do well to keep your feet on the ground and I’ve just got to keep working hard.”

With Gallagher Premiership action returning this week, and Saints preparing for a tricky opening test away at last season’s finalists Sale Sharks, McParland is hoping to keep his foot on the accelerator and put his hand up for a league debut at some point during the campaign.

“There is lots of competition for the No.9 shirt at Saints,” he added. “Tom James and Callum Braley are great players, along with Jake Garside and obviously Alex Mitchell who is away at the World Cup with England.

“So, I just need to keep working hard and stay ready, and it’s up to the coaches if they decide to put me in for the Premiership.”

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