Six Nations: England’s Orlando Bailey is the economics student and art lover hoping to make his mark

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As the son of an artist who retains a keen interest in drawing, printing and photography, it’s no surprise to discover that New England fly-half Orlando Bailey has a keen sense of detail.

“Let’s take the pictures in the home dressing room,” suggests Bailey, part of Eddie Jones’ Six Nations side, as he welcomes Sportsmail to the Bath ground, the Rec. “The lighting may be a little dark for the camera.”

Soft-spoken, erudite and with several interests outside of rugby, including studying for a degree in international development with economics, Bailey is far from your typical sportsman. This did not prevent him from reaching the international level at only 20 years old.

Bath youngster Orlando Bailey has been called up to England’s Six Nations squad next month

“My older siblings Natasha, Caspar and Gabriella have all done A level art and so have I. I did a lot of art growing up,” Bailey says of growing up in Dorset. “At home, we have a beautiful creative space that allows us to make art. The creative side has always been at the heart of our house. I still love to draw and when I get home to Dorset I do print too.

“My father Julian is a painter – he mainly does oils, but on a large scale. He made landscapes and paintings of the coast. Now it’s a bit more figurative. He evolves with the times but his work is great. It’s really colorful and exciting.

“My mum Sophie is a ceramist and played lacrosse for Great Britain so there is a sporting element to our family but I enjoy cooking and drawing as it is important to get away from rugby.

“I am in my second year at the University of Bath.

Bailey, 20, has a number of interests outside rugby, including his degree in economics

Bailey, 20, has a number of interests outside rugby, including his degree in economics

He also has a strong passion for art, shared by his mother, father and three siblings.

He also has a strong passion for art, shared by his mother, father and three siblings.

But the Bath youngster must now turn his sights to England's Six Nations campaign

But the Bath youngster must now turn his sights to England’s Six Nations campaign

“International development is really interesting. It is about criticizing the way the western world seeks to develop other areas. It makes you think. Balancing can be difficult. If I finish a long day in training, I know I have to do two or three hours of university work in the evening.

“Sometimes I wonder why I do it, but I always put in an hour or two on tough rugby days and on my days off I really like going to the library. It’s nice to feel like a student sometimes.

Bailey’s college work took a step back this week after joining Jones’ senior England side at Brighton for the start of the Six Nations.

Named after his great-grandfather, Bailey’s rise to Test level was swift. Last summer he helped England wipe out the junior Six Nations and this season he has impressed despite being in a Bath side who have won just once all term.

His creative spark and ability to play flat on the win line caught the attention of Jones, who believes Bailey can play in multiple baseline positions.

England boss Eddie Jones believes he is capable of playing in a number of defensive positions

England boss Eddie Jones believes he is capable of playing in a number of defensive positions

The Dorset man's creative spark and ability to play flat to the winning line caught Jones' eye

The Dorset man’s creative spark and ability to play flat to the winning line caught Jones’ eye

Equally at home with a canvas in his hand or with a ball, Bailey’s creativity shines through whether he’s on the pitch or not. Remarkably, he is still a member of Bath’s senior academy. “I try to trust my instincts as much as possible and not plan too far ahead,” says Bailey, nicknamed “Landy” by his friends and teammates. “There’s a lot of room in rugby for structure, but when there’s a chance to get out of that and play what’s in front of you, I try to express myself. I think it is important.

“Having my college job and other hobbies outside of rugby means that when I come to play I try to approach it in a very fresh way and take every situation on its own. It is not a question of approaching my rugby without worry because I am meticulous in my planning but it is important not to get bogged down too much on certain things.

“No detail of my rugby is ever lost, it’s just that I have times in the day when I can disconnect. Some players enjoy PlayStation and academic work is not for everyone. But I remember a few years ago Maro Itoje was seen as someone who was doing a degree and that made me realize that it had to be possible.

On the day Jones confirmed Bailey’s place in their Six Nations squad, England released a video of him tearing up Twickenham for Thomas Hardye School aged 15. .

Bailey was speaking with Sportsmail's Alex Bywater ahead of his Six Nations adventure

Bailey was speaking with Sportsmail’s Alex Bywater ahead of his Six Nations adventure

As he rose through the ranks, first at Thomas Hardye, then at Beechen Cliff School and Dorchester Rugby Club, a young Bailey sometimes felt sorry for the opposition on whom he often inflicted pain. “It got to a point where it was quite demoralizing. I felt for them,” said Bailey, who also represented Dorset in cricket, on his first outing at Twickenham.

“There are four of us – me, Frankie Reid, Ethan Staddon and John Stewart – who all come from the same school and the same club from Dorchester to Bath. We live together in Bath and they also go to university. We help motivate each other. This all came very quickly for me. It was surreal.

It’s barely 18 months since Bailey left Beechen Cliff, so being part of the England squad is amazing. Marcus Smith is likely to start the Six Nations opener for Scotland at fly-half with Bailey in an apprentice role, but Owen Farrell’s injury could still present him with an opportunity as Bailey can cover both back and center from the bench.

“Danny Cipriani was always one of my idols when I was little,” he says. “I admire the way he plays and the way he takes the ball over the line. His ball skills are world class and he was really great with me at Bath. He took me under his We type together and I ask him questions to try to learn as much as possible each day.

“The goal for me is to try to play for England in the Six Nations. I’m in the team now, but I want to be competitive and not make up numbers.

“The rugby test is a step forward with physicality and ball speed, but it’s something I want to keep pushing.”

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