Dutch courage

I cannot explain why I decided to leave Northampton Saints in the summer of 1989 and join Nottingham Rugby Club. It remains one of the worst personal decisions I have ever made and one of the best rugby decisions that I have ever made. I knew from the moment I walked into the changing rooms at Beeston that I would not be there for more than one season. I had the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the country and of being coached by one of the best coaches in the country, Alan Davies. Pulling on an England Under 21s shirt in Romania had made me want to step beyond the comfort zone of my hometown, who were then playing in Courage League Two and into League One.

At Nottingham the club facilities were second rate; the 1st Team pitch had a good playing surface, but the rest of the ground was poor. It was difficult to break into this side and I was clearly an outsider. The team consisted of some great players who knew each other very well. One such player was Gary Rees who began playing for Nottingham RFC in 1977 and gained 23 England caps in an International career spanning seven years. Another England teammate was Simon Hodgkinson who I had seen make his debut against Romania in Bucharest after our fixture. Gary Rees, Brian Moore and Simon Hodgkinson were the bedrock of a great Nottingham side coached by Alan Davies, who went on to be Wales Coach but before that coached the English B side between 1986 and 1988, and assisted Geoff Cooke in the English Tour of Australia and Fiji in 1988.


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