Twelvetrees explains 'cool' name that has fans talking
Forget the chicken and the egg, the great conundrum surrounding Billy Twelvetrees is the surname and the business.
The dextrous Gloucester centre charts his family roots; pardon the pun.
BILLY Twelvetrees will tell you he boasts rugby's greatest surname for two reasons: shrewd marketing and family lineage.
Kevin Fentiman married Beverley Twelvetrees and the couple embarked on a venture in tree surgery.
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The Twelvetrees name could have died out there and then: Beverley's two sisters had already married, and relinquished their family moniker.
So how could the newly-weds resist. The Twelvetrees Tree Surgery was born, and Kevin changed his surname.
Twelvetrees the next generation cannot split the two motivations for his father's switch from Fentiman.
Mr and Mrs Twelvetrees have run the business all the Gloucester centre's life – they also sell wood-burning stoves, and his mother oversees a gardening offshoot.
Twelvetrees revels in his unusual name: as a constant talking point, but mainly because of the compelling history behind it.
"My parents have had the business all my life, and I think about 25 years in total," said the 23-year-old.
"My dad used to work at Gatwick Airport, and he's always loved the outdoors.
"My parents love the seaside and being out on boats, but they love the wildlife too, so the business suits them down to the ground.
"My mum has her own gardening section of the business, and she helps my dad out cutting trees down.
"I've grown up with it, and that's been awesome, it's a real family business.
"My mum is the youngest of three girls, the other two sisters got married and they were worried about the name dying out.
"My dad had a brother so his name would continue. He thought Twelvetrees was a good name and he probably had the idea of the business in mind.
"I'm glad he took the name and I have it too. It generates funny nicknames, it's a cool name and people respond to it.
"Obviously everyone knows about the 36 nickname from Leicester, because in an Irish accent it sounds like 'twelve threes'.
"And that really is because of Geordan Murphy, but it was only ever Johne Murphy, another Irishman, who called me that regularly."
The man with the rapier running pass and the siege-gun clearance boot has settled quickly into Kingsholm life after arriving in the summer.
But under that easy-going exterior lurks serious ambition. Twelvetrees has already tasted double rugby rejection, and all at the tender age of 23.
Leicester Tigers came calling just when Twelvetrees was bound for the London School of Osteopathy.
Injury hindered his Welford Road Academy progress and eventually he was released.
And despite strong endorsement he still had to convince Championship club Bedford to take him on.
One stunning season later though, and Twelvetrees was back in the East Midlands.
"I was going to study osteopathy," he said. "I had been accepted and everything, but then I had to choose between that and rugby.
"I didn't want to have any regret: I'd still love to do the osteopathy, but maybe ten years down the line when I'm a little broken – it could come in quite handy!
"Unfortunately I had a few injuries at Leicester, didn't play too much and they ended up releasing me.
"Andy Key at the time said, 'It's unfortunate you're going, but go to Bedford, I know Mike Rayer there'. Initially they told me I wasn't good enough, so that was two rejections.
"But after a bit of persuading they gave me a trial and I was there for a season.
"Dusty Hare came to watch the Bedford games, to keep an eye on other former Leicester youngsters, he kept that link open and it worked out.
"Going there was the best thing for me; it was great for my confidence. Getting first-team rugby in the Championship was massively beneficial for my development."