Life after the bright lights

The next challenge in the rugby hurdle was to ensure I got picked to play against England in the World Cup warm-up match in September 1991. It is very odd to think that the full England side would have played England Students as a curtain raiser before the biggest tournament in the sport.

The last World Cup was in 2007; England played two of her oldest rivals in warm-up games, Wales and France, as they prepared for the tournament in September. These warm-up games were played as full tests, two in front of full houses at Twickenham and one test this time in Marseilles, one of the French heartlands of Rugby Union and boasting some of the most fervent rugby fans.

This wasn’t the case in 1991. The venue on this occasion was Grange Road, Cambridge University. It was great to visit the second oldest university in the English-speaking world to play against the full English side. However, it really gives some indication of how uncommercial rugby union was at this stage. The other strange thing to consider is a player’s dream of playing for England one day; however, you don’t expect to play against England and certainly not in an All Blacks shirt, with an English Red rose emblazoned on your chest.


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