TWO Hertfordshire rugby players have been called up to the England Counties squad for their forthcoming February fixtures, writes Sam Glanz.

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Wing Ollie Marchon and back row Billy Johnson, both currently with Old Albanian, will face Ireland Club XV in Cork on the February 8 before taking on France Amateurs at Ealing Trailfinders on February 22.

While Johnson represented England Counties on their successful tour to East Africa last summer, this will be Marchon’s first appearance for the side. The winger has however already received England honours this season after he made his England Sevens debut in Dubai.

OA’s director of rugby James Shanahan said: “Ollie has been an icon on the wing for us. He has electric pace and is a real game changer.

“Billy has been an inspiration. He’s an integral part of the team and an influential captain.

“We’re delighted for them both to get the opportunity.”

Asked whether the call-ups had had a positive effect on the club as a whole, Shanahan said: “God yes - it’s marvellous.

“We’re the new boys in National 1 so we’re here to learn, but not to make up the numbers.”

Both players started their career with local clubs. Johnson played his junior rugby at Datchworth, before moving to OA’s via Hertford and Bedford, and was in Hertfordshire’s Bill Beaumont Cup winning side at Twickenham last May.

Marchon played all his junior rugby at Harpenden, representing Hertfordshire at age group level, before a brief spell with Saracens was cut short by injury. On his return from University and travelling, Ollie joined Old Albanian and last season helped them gain promotion to National League 1.

The pair are an key part of OA’s team, with the St Albans club currently sitting pretty in fifth place in the league.

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