Worcester born-and-bred, Pennell, 34, began playing rugby at 8 years old with the Bredon Buzzards. He comes from an athletic family being the son of England cricket legend Graham Dilley, so sports being introduced at a young age was a given. After a few family moves, he ended up at Old Swinford Hospital School, a school rich in rugby tradition. After representing England in U19s, he went straight into the Warriors Academy program and burst onto the scene in 2007 making his Premiership debut at the age of 19.
This began a record setting career for Pennell at the Warriors.
The full-back made his 200th appearance for the Club against the Harlequins during the 2017/18 season and became the first Warriors player to make 150 Premiership appearances when he led out the side for his Testimonial Match in March 2019. Pennell scored his 400th point (all for the Warriors) and made his 250th appearance for the club in February 2021.
While 2007 marked the beginning of Pennell’s Premiership career, it also marked his diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes. Chris has been a tremendous advocate for those living with the incurable, genetic disease, and went on to make unique records for the community.
The former Warriors captain, Pennell was named vice-captain for the 2013/14 season and went on to play every minute of every Aviva Premiership game during Warriors’ campaign. His outstanding form during that season was rewarded with an Aviva Premiership Player of the Season nomination and a call-up to the England squad for the 2014 New Zealand tour. He made his England debut against the All Blacks and later against the Crusaders became the first Type 1 Diabetic to score a try for England.
Despite suffering an injury at the start of the 2014/15 season, Pennell bounced back to play 17 times for Warriors’ Championship-winning side, scoring 10 tries – including two in a man-of-the-match performance against Bristol Rugby, securing promotion back to the Premiership. He was also named man-of-the-match for England Saxons in January 2015.
Pennell yet again showed his worth to the Club in the 2015/16 season, playing in every Aviva Premiership game and scoring two tries. The full-back was solid under the highball and recorded the most meters made (1796) in a single season since Opta began recording stats.
The number 15 kept his consistency throughout 2016/17 and 2017/18, the latter where he made 22 appearances and kicked 86 points.
The 2018/19 season marked Pennell’s Testimonial Year, as Sixways Stadium recognized a true legend. The Testimonial Year raised funds for Diabetes UK, The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, and Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Pennell’s glittering career with Warriors came to an end when he left Sixways for one final time at the end of the 2020/21 season.