THE date was Saturday, February 4, 2023.

The venue was North Ribblesdale RUFC’s clubhouse, which was packed in anticipation of seeing their boy, Jack Walker, make his England debut.

Ribb’s chairman Gavin Davidson takes up the story: “Jack was the only one of the England players not to come off the bench.”

Dress rehearsal over, Grove Park was packed again last Sunday to watch England play Italy, again at Twickenham.

This time there was no false alarm. Hooker Walker, now with Harlequins, came on for the last nine minutes, replacing Jamie George.

Davidson said: “There were about 60 or 70 of us in the Ribb clubhouse and we raised the rafters when Jack came on.”

The Walkers are something of a dynasty at Ribb’s Grove Park home.

Jack’s brother Chris captained England Under-20s and their dad Johnny played union for Ribb and Otley before switching codes to represent Keighley Cougars, Batley and Hunslet.

Lee, Jack and Chris’ other brother, prefers the round-ball game but has also turned out for Ribb.

Johnny, who returned to play for Ribb after his rugby league days, died 10 years ago aged 44 from a suspected heart attack, but how proud he would have been to have seen Jack run out at Twickenham last weekend.

Davidson said: “Jack played for our minis 20 years ago when he was six, going through the under-sixes, sevens, eights, 10s,11s and 14s before moving from Settle College to Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley.

“He was a very, very humble lad, not boisterous at all, but we knew that he had something about him when it came to rugby.”

Others saw that in him as well, which is why Yorkshire Carnegie gave Jack his debut off the bench against Bristol aged 17 years and 160 days.

Then Jack was given the ‘armband’ aged 18 years and 256 days.

He was the youngest player in Carnegie’s history to both make his debut and to then captain the side.

Bath signed Jack in May 2016, but most of his appearances came off the bench as he found it difficult to displace Tom Dunn, who, ironically, is now in the England squad alongside Walker.

Jack needed a move to increase his game-time, so he signed for Harlequins two summers ago, where he has surprised some people with his all-round game and has flourished so much that England came calling.

Steeton-born Walker has already had international age-group success with England, winning the 2014 IRB Junior World Championships, coming off the bench in the final against South Africa at Eden Park.

He was also part of the England squad that won the 2015 Under-20 Six Nations, and they were runners-up to New Zealand in the subsequent World Championships.

Walker captained England to Under-20 Six Nations and Under-20 World Championship glory in 2016, but was concussed in a group game against Scotland in the latter competition, taking no part in the knockout phase but lifting the trophy at the end alongside Harry Mallinder. Eddie Jones first called up Jack to the senior squad last June and it remains to be seen how much game-time the Ribb product has under Steve Borthwick.