Spirit of Suc­cess

A sense of fam­ily and com­pet­i­tive na­ture guided from rugby’s elite cir­cles to life beyond pro­fes­sional sport.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - LESSONS EARNT - As told to AN­DREW MAR­MONT

DEAR MIKE, you are born in 1978 in Ot­ley, Eng­land. Your fa­ther is a bank man­ager and your mother is a house­wife. You spend much of your child­hood play­ing sport and do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with your cousins and sib­lings, and the Tin­dall com­pet­i­tive spirit shines through in every­thing you do.

As your dad loves rugby, he en­cour­ages you to give it a try early on. You take to it quickly and con­tinue to play through school. You don’t have a lot of suc­cess un­til your fi­nal year, when you are se­lected for York­shire, your county, and Eng­land school­boys. You tour Aus­tralia with this tal­ented team, do well, and many of your con­tem­po­raries go on to achieve full Eng­land se­lec­tion.

It’s dur­ing these last two years of school you en­counter a dilemma. Rugby, at that point, is still am­a­teur. But it turns pro­fes­sional in 1996, and you fin­ish your ed­u­ca­tion in 1997. You are among the first to have the op­por­tu­nity to go straight into pro­fes­sional rugby, and tell your par­ents that’s what you want to do. They would pre­fer you to fo­cus on fin­ish­ing your stud­ies and go to univer­sity. But that’s not what hap­pens. You turn down univer­sity to try and achieve your dream.

Bath, a proud rugby club, of­fers a oneyear con­tract af­ter you re­turn from Aus­tralia. This is your chance to pour every­thing into mak­ing a liv­ing in sport. It’s an eye-open­ing and intimidating at­mos­phere for a teenager, as the club con­tains many ex­pe­ri­enced and se­nior English Test play­ers. It’s a ruth­less sink-or-swim en­vi­ron­ment, but you thrive un­der the older play­ers’ tute­lage. The next year you’re of­fered a two-year deal and with that you’re on your way.

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