An Interview with Rory Underwood
This month we’re entering all SafeContractor members who join in February into a prize draw to win two England v Wales Six Nations tickets for the 12th March*. We’re taking this opportunity to interview Rory Underwood MBE - Development Director for Alcumus, our parent company, and former record-breaking English rugby player – about his memories of the Five Nations tournament.
What are your first memories of playing against Wales at Twickenham in the Five Nations?
My first game in the Five Nations was in 1984. It was a big game at Twickenham and I was well aware of all the history and rivalry between the two teams. We got stuffed by Wales - I believe Adrian Hadley scored a great try and they won the match with a nine point lead.
Did you feel an intense pressure to win against Wales, compared to playing other teams in the tournament?
When I first started playing I saw the England V Wales as any other international match, but in the 1985 Five Nations I picked up on the enormity of the match against Wales. It was twenty odd years since England beat Wales, and the pressure was on to win.
Are there any particularly memorable Five Nations matches?
My first Grand Slam against France in 1991 is a real stand out match. I had been playing for seven years but in the late eighties/early nineties the England team were getting really good. That match was made famous by a French try – they ran the whole length of the pitch for Phillipe Saint Andre to score. Les Peard was the match referee. He blew the whistle in time for England to win the match. I’m very grateful to him for that!
How do you think the game has evolved since you retired from the sport in terms of the physicality of the players and the style of coaching, and how has the tournament changed since five became six nations?
The game has changed massively firstly, because it’s become professional. There is so much more time spent on getting the players fit and healthy and looking at defence and tackling strategies. All round, the players, coaches and medical staff have come a long way in the past 20 years. The sport is also evolving in terms of the emphasis on the wellbeing of players, particularly after a big hit on the pitch.
Italy proved themselves strong enough to play in the tournament and they’re a great addition! Both players and fans enjoy visiting Rome to watch the matches, and Italy deserve a chance to prove themselves. Make no mistake, they’re no pushovers!
Would you like predict the outcome of the England V Wales match on the 12th March?
I think it’s going to be tight match. The fact it will be played at Twickenham gives England a huge advantage, and I think they’ll win!
Will it be payback for last year’s Welsh win in the World Cup?
Some players will use that as motivation, and for others it’s just a game between them and achieving a Grand Slam title.
Are there any English and Welsh players in this year’s squads who stand out for you?
The Welsh back row are outstanding this year. Jamie Roberts in particular, he was key to their win against Scotland. You can see that England’s performance is getting back to where they were prior to the World Cup. Jonathan Joseph with his hat-trick against Italy in Rome stands out on the English side.
And finally, what are your predictions for this year’s overall winner?
If England beat Wales at Twickenham then they have good chance but Ireland are a big threat. I think Wales will beat France.
Rugby aside, tell us about how you became involved with the Alcumus Group and your role within the organisation.
Martin Smith (CEO of Alcumus) contacted me about a rugby related request and we got talking. Soon after that we met in person and spoke about my careers in rugby and the RAF, and we both picked up on the synergies between the business and my past experience.
As Development Director for Alcumus, I work as a client ambassador generating quality relationships but my role is also as a spokesman for the company’s safety workshops and events, including The Health & Safety Event at the NEC in Birmingham next month, where Alcumus are sponsoring the Central Café at the event.
Rory Underwood is a Keynote Speaker at The Health & Safety Event at the NEC on 24th March. If you would like to attend, register your interest here.
To be entered into the prize draw, all you have to do is join SafeContractor as a new member this February. *Please read the full terms and conditions for the England V Wales prize draw.
Post date: 23 Feb 2016
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