Alex Dombrandt and Luke Northmore both studied at Cardiff but were always destined to play in England to help the Harlequins reach the last 16
England No.8 international Alex Dombrandt will captain Quins at The Arms Park while 6ft 2in center Luke Northmore is in some quarters for a spot in Eddie Jones’ Six Nations squad next week is typing.
As the Harlequins look to secure a place in the last 16 of the European Champions Cup by beating Cardiff on Friday, it has not gone unnoticed in Wales that two of the English champions’ most influential players are alumni of Cardiff Met University.
But Dombrandt represented Wales’ under-20s when he was a student at the Cardiff Met and he and Northmore each studied and played rugby there for three years before joining Quins in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Former Wales internationals and Cardiff players Jonathan Davies and Andy Powell publicly criticized their old region last month for failing to snap up the two hot prospects when they were under the noses of the blue and blacks. “Why didn’t Cardiff pick Rugby Dombrant? [sic] by Cardiff Met,” Davies tweeted and Powell replied, “Because scouting in Wales is s___ it’s who you know and it’s who you know.”
Cardiff hit back by refuting a newspaper report that a contract offer they made to Dombrandt in August 2017 stipulated that he drop out of college. They said “confidential email correspondence” shows the offer is “fully supportive of his remaining time at Cardiff Met, both rugby-wise and academically. He chose Quins as this was his home team, the team he supported and to pursue England honours.
The truth is the pair were almost certainly destined to play their senior rugby in England.
Born in Croydon in Surrey, Dombrandt learned his rugby at nearby Warlingham RFC and John Fisher School.
At Cardiff Met, where he won a 2-1 win in their sports programme, he was man of the match in the BUCS Super Rugby final in 2018 and also played in the Welsh Championship – but he had broken his jaw twice, the latter and decided after the second Incident of not playing in it anymore.
Born in Plymouth, Northmore attended Tavistock College and played for Tavistock RFC in the Cornwall-Devon League. During his time at Cardiff Met he represented England Students.
It was then Harlequins rugby boss Paul Gustard who signed Northmore, saying at the time: “Luke is an impressive young man who has terrorized the defense at the university. He will delight our fans with his ability to play through the line, control contact and create chances.”
This season, Northmore, now 24, has seven tries in 12 games after he and Dombrandt shared the Harlequins’ Premier League title triumph last June.
Dombrandt, also 24, has four caps for England after making his debut last summer and Quins’ assistant coach Adam Jones, the former Wales propsman, said of him this week: “He’s a local, supports Quins, and if you have someone who loves? the club, they want to put everything into it. He’s only been a pro for three, four years, still has a lot to do. Imagine what he’ll be like in a few years. Touch wood, he will be up there with the best in the world.”
And on the subject of one following the other in bootsteps from Welsh university to London stardom, Quins posted a hilarious social media video of Northmore secretly adding his signature alongside Dombrandt’s as they both announced the renewal of their club deals.
Cardiff are bottom of Pool B of the Champions Cup after all sorts of Covid-related issues, but they don’t have to deal with Andre ‘The Giant’ Esterhuizen as Harlequins’ in-form South African center is rested.
Still, Cardiff rugby director Dai Young is watching over visiting fly-half Marcus Smith.
“Many have tried to have a plan for him and many have failed,” Young said Thursday. “One thing we talk to Marcus about all the time is expecting the unexpected. He sees things that people don’t see and he’s so keen on opportunities that we have to be constantly on our guard.”