After surpassing the Club’s 200 points mark, Academy graduate Ollie Hassell-Collins took the seat to explain what it means to him to achieve 40 touchdowns for the Irishman, along with his five favorite scores.
Starting out in London’s Irish senior setup in the 2018/19 League campaign, the 23-year-old established himself as a mainstay in exile and has since made 88 appearances for the Boys in Green.
This season, the winger tops the Gallagher Premiership’s top scorer charts with seven tries from seven appearances, and is also among the league’s top 10 players for defenders beaten (21, fourth), the winning line (33, 10e) and line breaks (11, joint-fourth).
After fulfilling a childhood dream of starting and scoring for the London Irish, the ACE product shares what it’s like to pull on the shirt and walk through the whitewash while doing it.
“It’s great, I love scoring tries and it’s probably my favorite part of the job,” said the winger.
“But doing it for a club I grew up at at the Academy, in a place I’ve been at for a long time, makes it even more special.”
First Premiership outing – 29-26 (W) vs Wasps – 20e October 2019, Gallagher Premiership
“We had a turnover and the ball went straight to Curty [Curtis Rona] then to Blair [Cowan]who throws that huge silver ball that he never lets me forget, he always talks about how he helped my first Premiership try!
“When I saw the space in front of me I was a little surprised to have thought what a stage this was going to be for the Premiership, I was very young and still learning.
“When I saw more than 50 yards in front of me I lowered my head but actually thought about passing it inside to Ben Meehan when I put the ball in with both hands.
“I think he was calling it, but I thought, ‘No, I’m going to have this! “”
Tries: Zach Kibirige (2), Dan Robson
Conversion: Lima Sopoaga
Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (2), Jacob Umaga
Essays: Blair Cowan, Albert Tuisue, Ollie Hassell-Collins
Conversion: Paddy Jackson
Penalties: Paddy Jackson (4)
The Reading native not only scored on his Premiership debut, but also on his first-team debut in the Championship – netting a 38-29 win at home to Cornish Pirates.
Prior to his first-team debut, Hassell-Collins was called up to represent his country at under-18 level and was eventually capped at the under-20s throughout the 2019 calendar year.
Punch Chiefs – 28-45 (L) vs Exeter Chiefs – 5e January 2020, Gallagher Premiership
“It was a good time with the subs, but it was a cool time and the boys pushed me down, I couldn’t get up!” Hassell-Collins has spoken of the consequences of scoring well as he continues his fine form in his new Premiership campaign.
“It’s one of the first tries where I beat a few defenders and did something quite magical, I just had to be strong and go over the top.”
“When I got around the first guy I thought maybe I should go inside but since there was no one there I backed inside and beat another defender and I felt like I could score.
“I put my foot down, but recognized that the full-back was quite tough, and I knew that if I kicked again he couldn’t tackle me, then I scored.
“There was a bit of a panic at the time as to where I could go, I shouldn’t really mark that, but it’s a bit more natural now.
“I watched the players and their body language, and judging by the fact I knew I could step in multiple times and he wouldn’t get a dominant tackle on me.”
Trials: Belgium Tuatagaloa, Albert Tuisue, Ollie Hassell-CollinsSteve Mafi
Conversions: Steven Myler (4)
Tries: Sam Hill (2), Dave Dennis, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ollie Devoto, Stu Townsend
Transformations: Gareth Steenson (6)
Achieving an exclusive club of exiles by hitting triple-digit career points is no small feat, especially given the 23-year-old’s relatively fledgling rugby career for his contemporaries.
By reaching such a milestone, the try scorer is always aiming higher at what he can do for the Club.
“It’s something I hadn’t really thought about before, when it happens you understand how important it is for me and the club, and really, how cool it is to say that.
“I got a text from my family saying I’ve achieved it, they’re proud every time I go out and play for the Irish.
“It’s a brilliant achievement to have, obviously I’m still young so hopefully I can get to 500, 600 points just with trying.
“I love going out and doing that week after week for this club.”
Soaring v Cherry and Whites – 24-20 (W) v Gloucester Rugby – 22n/a February 2020, Gallagher Premiership
“Defensively at the time I was still learning the system, but it was one of the first times I felt like I got it right and put it into action.
“I was square, took the ball and ran away – it was my first Premiership hat-trick, and one for memorabilia.
“It wasn’t as easy as the Bath hat-trick but as always I have to give credit to the lads inside for giving me space.
“As soon as he was in my hands I knew it was time to go and they had no one there because they were on the attack.
“As soon as you get an interception it’s ‘put your head down’ and get to the try line and when I got to about their 10 yard line I was confident I could score and cool the throws down a bit. “
Try: Ollie Hassell-Collins (4)
Conversions: Steven Myler (2)
Essays: Charlie Chapman, Ollie Thorley, Louis Rees-Zammit
Conversions: Billy Twelvetrees
Sanctions: Billy Twelvetrees
A crowning performance against Gloucester was one of the first big steps in recognition in the rugby world for the talented youngster, on an afternoon when he netted an incredible four times.
Perhaps the ‘easiest’ of his three Premiership tries, as he admitted, was the most recent of his three against Bath Rugby, which was accomplished in the first half – only the 22nd player to succeed a first-half hat-trick in Premiership history. , the first exile to do so.
In the second of his three career Premiership hat-tricks in 2021, Hassell-Collins talks about the second of his three scores at Brentford against Newcastle Falcons.
Second part of the hat-trick against Newcastle – 43-21 (W) vs Newcastle Falcons – 4e December 2021, Gallagher Premiership
“It’s a kick counter; Cart [Tom Parton] good to pass and then it’s a fastball from Phippsey [Nick Phipps]who finds paddy [Jackson] and give it to me directly.
“I felt that because there was a striker inside, I knew I could get outside of him and hoped there would be a two-on-one with the winger.
“Fortunately the winger kept coming out, I went outside the striker and crossed, beating the 10 and ran into the corner.
“It’s a pretty satisfying try, when I watch it it has a bit of everything – footwork, speed, strength, and it’s probably one of my most comprehensive tries.”
Try: Kyle Rowe, Ollie Hassell-Collins (3), Steve Mafi, Agustin Creevy
Conversions: Paddy Jackson (5)
Sanctions: Paddy Jackson
Essays: Sean Robinson, Callum Chick, Adam Radwan
Conversions: Will Haydon-Wood (2), Adam Radwan
Despite the milestone reached by Hassell-Collins, the five-year-old Irish player is taking time to recognize the people who contributed to his remarkable feat.
“It all depended on my parents when I was little taking me across the country just to play rugby in the first place and then when you get into a professional environment you have all these amazing coaches on hand.
“They help you improve and do your job at the weekend, and when you step onto the pitch you have to recognize that it’s the importance of the team that gets you to points like this.
“The teammates I have around me now are world class, and it’s a pleasure to go out there and do it for the fans alongside them.
The 200 Mark – 26-24 (L) vs Harlequins – 29e October 2022, Gallagher Premiership
“We would have liked to have done it a little earlier, and if we got to the wings a little faster, we might have had a few more tries in the day.
“But everything about this essay is almost perfect from the BV [Benhard Janse van Rensburg] pass, the line of Luca [Morisi] to give a little boost to his counterpart, Paddy [Jackson] does well to call the game and stare Joe Marchant to put Stokesy [James Stokes] through.
“Stokesy hardly passes it, but luckily it lasted long enough and I beat 15 and got past 10.
“He was calling it inside, but I backed myself up.
“With the way the game was going it was necessary and it was a pretty high pressure try being quite close to the edge, but I thought I had a good understanding of the dimensions of the pitch and who was tackling me.”
Tries: Tommy Allan (2), Alex Dombrandt, George Head
Conversions: Tommy Allan (3)
Tries: So’otala Fa’aso’o, Ben Donnell, Ollie Hassell-Collins
Conversions: Paddy Jackson (3)
Sanctions: Paddy Jackson
With the most contemporary of his 40 Irish scores among the favourites, an evolution in Hassell-Collins’ character and style is evident from his first attempt to his last.
Despite an impressive try record and statistical figures in 2022/23, Hassell-Collins is solely focused on pursuing personal growth at this Irish side, with the primary aim of getting all four points every week.
“The weekend try against Quins was all about my strength and momentum going forward, so the work in the gym was huge for me, having always been pretty lean and not much of me.
“So it was good to get a few players together and get those few tries at the start of this season, and it’s always nice to see when you’re top of the scoreboard of course, so I’m going to keep pushing .
“I’m happy with how the season is going, but I don’t want to focus too much on that.
“Week after week I want to continue my game in this team and try to get wins.
“I think my tactical awareness and understanding of the game we’re playing has grown, I’m more aware of the different ways we can try to get that win each week.
“When I started in the team it was more about trying to get the ball back, beating defenders and scoring – whereas now I always think about space and putting myself in the best possible position. position to score or assist my teammates.