The Harlequins back talks on-pitch hilarity, Harry Potter and house plants

Downtime with… England centre Joe Marchant

We hear you make a decent spag Bol… 

Friday night lights! I host a few of the boys every Friday if we have a Saturday game. People have asked for other things but I tell them they can bring their own food or have spag Bol from me. There’s enough room for five on the sofa but it’s a bit of a squeeze.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard on the pitch?

Have you seen Friends? At Quins we used to have a call called ‘Pivot’. James Lang was at ten, shouting “Pivot, pivot!”. Then me and Henry Cheeseman started shouting it as well but we were saying it like Ross does in that episode (with the sofa). Langy was laughing because we were shouting it with that voice. It was very funny.

Who are the jokers in the Quins and England squads? 

Obviously Joe Marler in both. Bevan Rodd is a funny man; he comes out with some classics. Will Stuart as well. I don’t know what kind of humour it is but it’s great to be around.

Any practical jokes you can share?

I roomed with Max Malins and we tried to do the old scare cam thing. I got into the room one day and he was in there but I didn’t know he was.

I put the speaker on and it says something like, “Bluetooth connected”. He was then in a panic thinking it was the cleaner and how was he going to explain that he was lying on the floor, hiding behind the bed. He just started laughing.

Do you have any phobias?

I really don’t like spiders. I’m not scared of too much, though. When I walk my dog in the dark he gets a bit jumpy, so if I was scared of that as well, seeing shadows, it would be quite bad.

What about superstitions? 

There are the classic rugby ones like putting the left boot on and then the right boot, and I listen to a song before a game. It’s more of a ritual. I don’t walk on three drains, though. I definitely avoid that. I don’t want to think about what might happen if I did.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

The old Top Gear cast would be pretty funny. Just being part of that, with James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson stuck in a lift, would be funny. When they’re together they’re like three big kids, especially when they have the cash to do whatever they want, like The Grand Tour. Being with those three you never know what might happen.

Any surprising hidden talents? 

If I told you, they wouldn’t be hidden.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? 

We were speaking about this the other day and I changed my answer. I originally said I’d want to be able to teleport, which would be cool, but now I think reading minds would be better. Like in What Women Want or What Men Want, being able to know what people are thinking in every setting.

If you could be one team-mate, who would it be? 

Joe Marler is pretty happy with life, I think he’s got everything sorted. Maro Itoje is pretty cool; he is the most connected man in rugby and you see him everywhere. So one of those two. They have good lifestyles.

The silliest thing you’ve ever bought? 

This isn’t the silliest thing but when I was isolating recently I was looking for a stand for my Harry Potter wand. I found a cool stand on the website but also ended up buying a fair bit of merchandise – two jumpers, a hat, my wand stand…

I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan. I’ve now got a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw jumper, a Gryffindor scarf, a Ravenclaw hat…

If your house was on fire, what’s the one item you would save? 

It’s pretty sad but it would have to be my phone – it’s got everything you need on it.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

I don’t feel guilty about it but maybe Taylor Swift. Probably of all artists, I know a lot of her songs, especially her early country days. She’s the ‘Princess of Country’.

Your Mastermind specialist subject?

It would have to be Harry Potter.

What’s the last app you downloaded? 

It’s one to save my plants called PictureThis. I’m trying to keep my house plants alive and it’s not been going well, so rather than keep getting new ones I wanted to try harder to save them.

This app tells you when to water, how much sunlight they need… You can take a picture and it analyses it.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

I’d just like to be happy.

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 edition of Rugby World.

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