Meet the Olowofelas: Twins Ryan and Jordan on England rugby pathways

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Meet the Olowofelas: England's rugby twins
World Rugby Under-20 Championship
Venue: France Date: 30 May - 17 June
30 May: England v Argentina (17:30 BST) 3 June: England v Italy (15:30 BST) 7 June: England v Scotland (20:00 BST)

Brotherly love goes far - but would you do a school detention for a sibling if you could get away with it?

It helps if, like the Olowofela brothers, you are identical twins.

"I got a detention for a week once and wasn't in the mood for it," Ryan Olowofela told BBC Sport.

"I said to Jordan 'can you please do this for me?' and he very kindly did."

Jordan, who points out he only stepped in for one of Ryan's five days, said the teacher "didn't have a clue" about the swap.

The pair have turned their energies from duping teachers to excelling on the rugby field - but the 20-year-olds have taken slightly different paths.

Jordan has been named in the England squad which is aiming to lift a fourth World Under-20 Championship next month in France, while Ryan has moved away from the 15-man game and has broken into the England Sevens programme.

Hull-born, but schooled in Lincoln, the two are naturally gifted sportsmen.

Before joining the Leicester Tigers academy, the twins played squash during their school days and spent time in the Nottingham Forest FC youth system before settling on rugby.

Ryan was also a talented swimmer, but did not enjoy mornings in a cold pool.

"With squash we were very competitive, we'd always battle it out on court," he added. "When it came to rugby we'd help each other along.

"If we do something wrong we can always help each other and talk about it, offering constructive criticism rather than shouting at each other."

Globetrotting on the Sevens World Series

Ryan left the Tigers set-up last summer to concentrate on sevens, and featured in all four rounds of the Grand Prix Series across Europe last year.

He then stepped up to make his debut on the World Sevens Series in Sydney in January, and has been a regular in England squads since then.

"It has been a great journey," said the winger. "I never thought I would make the World Series and join the senior squad. Playing among people like Dan Norton is crazy."

Ryan Olowofela hands off an opponent from Samoa at the World Sevens Series event in Hong Kong
Ryan Olowofela scored his first try on the World Sevens Series in New Zealand in February

Ryan has already taken in trips to New Zealand, the United States and Hong Kong, with the final two legs taking place in London and Paris.

"Sometimes I think how lucky am I to be able to hop on a plane, go somewhere and actually get paid for it," he added.

"I would probably never see these countries if I wasn't doing what I am doing."

Jordan may be slightly jealous of Ryan's globetrotting, but Ryan makes sure to bring back mementos from his trips - fridge magnets which take pride of place in their mother's kitchen in Newark.

Ryan may be travelling the world but, if Jordan returns from France with a World Under-20 Championship winner's medal, his twin may be shooting him some envious glances.

Under-20s take centre stage

Jordan, a flexible back who can play at centre, on the wing or at full-back, made his debut for the England Under-20s in the Six Nations earlier this year.

He featured in all five games as England missed out on the title on points difference, and is in the 28-man squad for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

England begin their campaign against Argentina on Wednesday (17:30 BST), with pool matches against Italy and Scotland following on Sunday and Thursday, 7 June respectively.

Jordan Olowofela is tackled by Rio Dyer
Jordan Olowofela helped England to four wins from five at the Under-20 Six Nations this year, but France took the title on points difference

England have a history of recent success at the tournament, having reached the past five finals and gone on to clinch the title on three of those occasions, but were beaten to the trophy by New Zealand last year in Georgia.

"We shouldn't have the pressure on us of what previous years have done," said Jordan. "We have to make our own legacy and are trying to prove ourselves.

"Obviously we'd like to win it but we don't look that far ahead. If we play our style of rugby we shouldn't have any problems."

Scars and playing Fortnite

Ryan is the elder sibling by some five minutes - but how else can you to tell the Olowofela boys apart?

Ryan wears his hair up, while Jordan's flops downwards and he has a smattering of facial hair. Then there are their scars.

Jordan's - from a cut above his left eyebrow - was sustained when Ryan threw a potty at him when the boys were toddlers. Ryan's, on his arm, came from an accident while out ice-skating when he got caught by Jordan's blade.

Jordan classes himself as "more mellow" than Ryan, who says they rarely argue.

"We don't really see enough of each other to get under each other's skin," added Ryan.

The twins live apart during the week, with Jordan in Leicester and Ryan based in London, but regularly spend weekends back at their parents' house.

"When we are not away we are back with each other every weekend," said Ryan.

"We play on my PlayStation - mainly Fortnite - and smash that for a few hours every night. We don't play Fifa any more as Jordan always wins."

Ryan's Twickenham dreams

Jordan made his Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers in April, coming on as a replacement in the closing stages of their 34-19 win over Bath at Twickenham.

He played his first senior game for the Tigers in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last November - but he says his league bow was "a dream come true".

"I wasn't really meant to get on," he said. "I went up to the coach, said 'please just get me on'.

"I didn't touch the ball, make a tackle, or fall on the ground. I just got on the pitch and stood there smiling."

Ryan was not in the country for his brother's brief run-out at Twickenham, but hopes to emulate Jordan by playing at the national stadium this weekend during the London leg of the World Sevens Series.

"I was on the Series somewhere but I got all his friends Snapchatting me and saying he had made his debut," he said.

"Playing at Twickenham would be great.

"When you are tired, fading or can't be bothered you always have Twickenham in the back of your mind. It would be my home debut so fingers crossed I am selected."

Taking the pitch together

The two appear on different paths for now, but the chance of emulating the Underwood, Vunipola and Youngs brothers by representing England together remains a possibility.

But Ryan doubts Jordan's ability to switch to sevens, claiming his brother "doesn't have the lungs" for the short form of the game.

So does that mean 15s is the future?

"I'd love to play sevens for my country in the Olympics so that is in the back of my head," said Ryan.

"I'd like to play tournaments regularly and after a while probably get on the 15s platform and play next to Jordan. That would be incredible as we used to tear it up."

Similar in so many regards, perhaps the twins will be confusing opponents on the field together for England one day.

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