They captured the mood of the nation with their emotional rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot following England’s defeat in the rugby World Cup final.
But their performance also showed that rugby hunks Ben Foden, Thom Evans and Levi Davis were more than just Try Stars.
The hunks say taking part in The X-Factor: Celebrity has been a dream come true.
“What a lot of people may not realise is that music is a huge part of rugby,” says 34-year-old former Scotland international Thom.
“It’s such a big part of the culture to sing and dance with the lads, especially if you win! It’s a huge part of the celebrations. I’ve had so many messages from my rugby mates, guys I used to play with, and they’re all loving it.”
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Former England full-back Ben, 34, who now plays for Rugby United New York, adds: “I’ve had a lot of messages from guys telling me how much they’d love to be doing what we’re doing.
“They are so jealous! We’ve been so lucky. We all grew up watching it wishing we could be doing it. And here we are!”
And with Levi, the baby of the group at 21, having been in a band at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Bristol, where George Ezra studied, it’s easy to see why they are impressing mentor Simon Cowell.
Ben says: “It’s brutal. I’ve seen lads who are more nervous about having to sing after the match in front of their team-mates than going out on the pitch.
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“The boys are savage. If they don’t like your song they’ll throw things at you, like water and food, as well as boo you.”
Levi adds: “The trick is to choose a song they all know and can sing along to. It’s always good to get them to join in as quickly as you can.
“Oasis song Wonderwall is an obvious choice but you won’t get away with just singing the chorus, they won’t be impressed with that.”
The lads were due to sing Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You tonight as they fight it out to stay in the ITV competition. But during rehearsals yesterday the boys felt it wasn’t quite working. And after the attention they got from singing a small section of the song for their LA audition they are now singing the full live version of Blackstreet’s No Diggity.
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Ben had come up with the song for their initial audition. He said: “I mean who doesn’t love that song?”
The trio have also been getting lots of messages from fans, although Ben – who got married over the summer – has been avoiding the racier ones.
Thom says: “Of course it’s nice. It means that they’re enjoying what we’re doing on the show. We’ve always said that as long as we go out there and leave that stage knowing we’ve given it everything, then whatever will be will be.”
Levi adds: “I’ve been getting messages from girls and boys saying well done and how much fun they’re having watching us. Obviously our market means that we’re also getting a few naughty ones.”
But what would it mean if they were to go on and win? Ben says: “It would be life changing for us all and open so many doors. We’d be able to stay as a band and explore it. One thing we haven’t done yet is write our own music. Levi writes and Thom and I have dabbled a little bit. To get the opportunity to work with producers and songwriters would be an amazing opportunity.
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“And when you’ve got someone like Simon as a mentor, who knows the industry inside out, it’s great to have his backing.
“What we want is to make sure we reflect ourselves in our songs, and help come up with some of the ideas when it comes to our performance.”
● Download The X Factor: Celebrity app to vote for Try Star on tonight’s show, at 8.10pm on ITV.
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