From Marbella's youth academy to the top of world rugby

Joshua Peters, playing at youth level for Marbella Rugby Club.
Joshua Peters, playing at youth level for Marbella Rugby Club. / SUR
  • Joshua Peters grew up in Benalmádena but represented England at youth level; on Saturday he made his full debut in the red of Spain

He was born in England and he has all of the characteristics of a burly English rubgy player. His accent, however, betrays the fact that he is a 'Malagueño' from Benalmádena. When Joshua Peters stepped onto the field to make his international debut on Saturday, he did so in the colours of Spain as they took on Georgia in a European Rugby Championship match. This was the end result of a decision on which there is no going back: Peters has committed himself to Spain.

This is in spite of the fact that he previously wore the white of England. In fact, during his youth career he wore both the red of Spain and the white of England, earning a podium finish with both at the under-18 European Championships. He came third with Spain in the B tournament in 2012 when he was just 17, then won the A tournament with England the following year.

Now, at the age of 22, he has opted to stick with red and will pursue the dream of playing in the World Cup in Japan next year for which Spain have qualification virtually tied up.

Joshua Peters is the archetypal product of this multicultural melting point we call the Costa del Sol. When he was just two years old, his family moved to Benalmádena where he grew up and attended a public school. He wasn't even ten when he started to play for Marbella Rugby Club. At the beginning he didn't stand out.

“In each category we put kids together in two-year groups and in the first of each, Joshua struggled,” says Pablo Munilla, Peters' coach in his early years at the Costa del Sol club. This was also the case in his first year in 'infantiles' when Marbella Rugby Club won the title at the Spanish Championships and Peters didn't make the starting lineup.


However, since then his physical growth has coincided with his progression as a player which not only turned him into the standout player in the team, but saw him selected to represent Andalucía.

Peters formed part of the class of 1995, the most successful generation of players produced by the club. They won Andalusian and national championships and produced a long line of players - Pablo Miejimolle, George Stokes, Dani Sthor, Juan Boccardo, Facundo Munilla - who led Spain to bronze at the under-18 European Championships B in 2014.

It was at these tournaments that England started to take an interest in him. This was when he was signed up for the Saints Junior Academy after signing a professional contract and formed part of the England under-18 side which were European champions in 2015.

After completing his development at the academy, he moved onto the Northampton Saints, a team in the English Premiership which loaned him last year to Coventry RFC.

At more than two metres tall and weighing in at 108 kilos, he was at 22 years of age an up-and-coming talent on the English rugby scene. On Saturday, however, he became a part of Spanish rugby's present.