A KEIGHLEY-born Leicester Tigers ace returned to his school to pick up an award.

James Whitcombe was presented with the eponymous Burnhill Cup to Year 13 pupils at Woodhouse Grove in Apperley Bridge by school alumni and rugby legend Steve Burnhill.

Like Burnhill, Whitcombe is first-team captain at Woodhouse Grove and has represented England – making his Under-18s England debut last year.

Whitcombe would normally have been presented the Burnhill Cup at the school’s prize day but is unable to attend as he will be playing rugby in Australia on a Leicester Tigers exchange programme. Burnhill presented him with the Burnhill Cup a few weeks early.

Whitcombe joined the Leicester Tigers Academy in 2017. He started playing at Skipton RFC, aged five, and also played for Keighley and Bradford and Bingley. He joined Woodhouse Grove in Year 7 and has made his mark on the school rugby field ever since. He credits his school coaches as being instrumental in developing his understanding of the game.

Whitcombe said: "The school has given me a lot of opportunities and I have probably done so well with my sport because they really support and push you if you excel at something.

"What I will take away from my time at the Grove is to be a well-rounded person and work hard in everything that I do."

Dan King, director of sport at Woodhouse Grove School said: "James is an excellent first-team captain, leading by example.

"His commitment to training and his focus on the field is exemplary.

"James benefits from the school’s Grove Athlete Education Programme which provides pupils who have competed or been recognised at international, national, regional or county level - or who have been signed by a professional academy - with the support they require to co-ordinate academic life around their sporting commitments and provides tailored programmes to maximize their potential.