MY LIFE IN RUGBY

THE FOR­MER WASPS NO.8

The Rugby Paper - - Championship Dream Team / Feature - PETER SCRIVENER

In the early days of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, I was of­fi­cially the high­est paid player in the world which still makes the lads chuckle to­day. Nigel Melville had signed me for £60k a year – a de­cent sum at the time - but I played only 19 min­utes in the open­ing game of the sea­son be­fore pick­ing up a bad in­jury and was out for the next nine months.

Sadly, I spent five of my 12 years at Wasps (19922003) on the side­lines after dou­ble knee and shoul­der re­con­struc­tion surgery. It was hugely dis­ap­point­ing but I’d like to think that the boys thought I was a real as­set to the team when I was fit and play­ing.

Wasps was like a sec­ond fam­ily, and still is. I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter sup­port net­work to help me through the dark times when I was in­jured and when my mother passed away.

Hav­ing grown up in Es­sex, Sara­cens was my lo­cal club and I nearly joined them. It was only be­cause Ge­off Strange, the lead scout at the time, phoned me lit­er­ally ev­ery day after the Eng­land Schools U18 cam­paign for about three months that I ended up at Wasps.

I’ll never for­get my first sum­mer as a Wasps player in 1992. Rob Smith asked me to go to Saint-Je­ande-Luz for a pre-sea­son tour. Sud­denly, as an 18year-old just out of school, I was in the com­pany of Rob An­drew, Dean Ryan, Steve Bates, Fran Clough, Buster White and other Wasps le­gends of that era.

While I was at the club we won two League ti­tles, two Tet­ley’s Bit­ter Cups and, most mem­o­rably, be­ing part of the 2003-04 Heineken Cup sea­son. It was an ex­cit­ing time and things really took off when War­ren Gat­land and Shaun Ed­wards ar­rived with the best strength and con­di­tion­ing team ever as­sem­bled, headed up by Craig White and Paul Strid­geon.

Gats tended to make a dras­tic change if the team hit a bad run of form, as one of our sec­ond rows, Joe Beard­shaw, found out to his cost. Gats wanted to send out a mes­sage that fail­ure was un­ac­cept­able and Joe was re­leased from his con­tract. An­other time when we weren’t play­ing well, I was called into the of­fice and feared the worst.

Sure enough, Gats said he needed to make changes but that my po­si­tion in the squad was safe only be­cause I was es­sen­tial to Si­mon Shaw’s men­tal well-be­ing! Shawsy was one of the great­est for­wards ever but needed some­one to guide and ad­vise him on and off the field. He owes me so much and I am lucky to have Shawsy as one of my best mates and god­fa­ther to my son, Char­lie.

In terms of matches, I think the Tet­ley’s Bit­ter Cup Fi­nal in 1999 against New­cas­tle was up there with my best and most favourite games. We had a great squad that just kept im­prov­ing and was a very close knit of play­ers. From the age of 19, I was in and out of the Eng­land squad with­out ac­tu­ally get­ting capped but rep­re­sented Eng­land at U18s, U21s, As, 7s and the Bar­bar­ians which was a great hon­our.

The Bar­bar­ians tour to Italy, with John Mitchell as cap­tain, was a very en­joy­able one with plenty of good rugby and laughs along the way. Baa-baas president, Micky SteeleBodger was that posh he used to leave his shoes out­side his ho­tel room to be pol­ished. Be­ing a bit of a joker, I hid them – and Scott Hast­ings ac­quired the sil­ver fox tro­phy that Micky had been given by one of the host­ing clubs. He went bal­lis­tic and said we’d never play for the Baa-Baas. A week later we played against the Com­bined Ser­vices! Micky was and still is an in­cred­i­ble per­son.

On re­tir­ing, my con­nec­tions with Wasps have re­mained strong – first through my role as Com­mer­cial Di­rec­tor and then as founder of Wasps Le­gends and the Wasps Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion. We have raised the best part of a £1m for var­i­ous good causes since it was set up in 2011. I am also CEO of Klas In­ter­na­tional.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.