CRUNCHING numbers or crunching tackles, it’s all the same for rugby’s newest all star Andrew Fenby – by day a mild-mannered accountant, but when the weekend comes... Not since the days of amateurism has top-flight English rugby housed stars swapping muddy weekend kit with white collar office wear Monday to Friday.
But if Newcastle Falcons’ new boy Fenby is a throwback, he’s a thoroughly modern one. The Blaydon part-time winger scored after four minutes of his Falcons Premiership debut in Sunday’s dramatic 32-25 win at Sale Sharks – and was back at his PricewaterhouseCoopers desk in Jesmond at 9am sharp yesterday.
North Wales-born Fenby, 23, qualified as a chartered accountant in November, after PwC sponsored him through his Newcastle University business, accounting and finance degree.
If the accountancy does not come naturally though, try scoring does. Still a Blaydon player, Fenby was loaned to the Falcons at the weekend through a special dual registration. With 73 tries in 78 appearances at the Swalwell club, he has taken the National Leagues by storm. And while a Premiership debut might seem like hard work, Fenby admitted his desk job is more taxing.
He said: “The ACA exams in November were the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Rugby is a tough sport, great fun and I would love to make a career out of it if I can.
“Sunday was a dream come true, and it’s a bit of a blur to be honest. For the try, I just caught the ball and ran, that’s about all I can remember.”
The Falcons convinced the Rugby Football Union to treat Fenby as the exception that proves the rule, allowing him to turn out at Edgeley Park.
The Kingston Park club talked RFU Academy head Stuart Lancaster into allowing them to treat Fenby as an over-age academy player.
So the Rhos-on-Sea-born wideman can move freely between Blaydon and the Falcons from now until the end of the year.
Falcons rugby director Steve Bates will now have to decide whether to hand his newest star a full-time contract for next season.
If the offer comes, Fenby admitted he will put the ledgers to one side.
Fenby said: “I have discussed the option of a career break with work, and it could be something that works out.
“The company have been fantastic with me, giving me flexible hours to fit around training in recent weeks.
“If I could get a contract that would be amazing, I never really thought I could go pro until the last six months or so.”
Meanwhile, Blaydon could not be happier for star man Andrew Fenby’s Newcastle Falcons success. The National League Two club love to develop players – and if they can go fully professional, they do so with their blessing.
Blaydon rugby director Nick Gandy knows first-hand why Fenby has a special talent.
Gandy said: “Andrew does not have blistering pace, but he is extremely skilful and tricky.
“He beats players with quick feet, guile and strength, and he has scored some outrageous tries for us this season.
“Against National League One club Nottingham in the cup he ran fully 80metres and beat about six people – and that’s not the first time he had done something like that.
“We’re delighted for Andrew to get his chance, we have been supportive of his crack to get involved with the Falcons for some time. He could be back with us this weekend, but we’ll have to wait and see what Newcastle want to do.”