The TV celebrity explains why rugby is such an integral part of his life
WAS BROUGHT up as a Millwall FC supporter but went to a grammar school, London Nautical, where they only played rugby. That’s where my love of the sport began.
I played all across the back-line at school and then, after leaving, didn’t play again until I was 30. This guy I met in the pub was the scrum-half at Eton Manor and invited me to training, so I played there, this time as a hooker.
Then I played for London Welsh Occies, the vets’ side. I took my son, Tom, to minis and helped with coaching. I’ve got two (coaching) certificates, the first at London Welsh and the second at Whitstable.
Tom’s 24 now and rugby is what we do together. We watch Wasps and England, home or away. The best thing I ever did for him was taking him to rugby at five years old. It’s been great for his personal growth, and the best thing I ever did for us as father and son. It’s given us this great social life and shared interest.
I loved playing rugby, it’s such a physical and mental test. And I love watching it because it’s so complex and ever evolving. I love the atmosphere of rugby and the people who watch it.
I’m a regular at Wasps and I tweeted once: “On my way to the Ricoh. Looking forward to having a beer with the fantastic Exeter Chiefs fans.” Their official site got hold of it and tweeted: “Exeter fans on your way to Wasps: Wallace is buying the beers.” I got inundated! That could only happen with rugby.
ISometimes I get an invite from the directors or owner. Semore Kurdi (Newcastle) is a great guy. He doesn’t drink so at lunch with him I said: “What is it about rugby and beer that you don’t like?” He said: “Would you like a beer?” I said: “Please, if that’s okay!”
I’m also friends with Martin Thatcher, who owns Thatchers Cider, and they sponsor Bath and Bristol, so that’s a good day out for me as well.
At Bath, they served me gravy instead of toffee sauce with the sticky toffee pudding. The catering manager said,
“Of all the boxes, I can’t believe we’ve messed up the one Gregg Wallace is in!”
To be an away supporter is just a glorious time. At Wasps, if I see away fans in the car park, I make a point of greeting them and making sure they know where they’re going.
I’ve always wanted to be famous enough to be picked out by the camera at a rugby match. This year my ambition was fulfilled at the Saracens-Wasps semi-final. That really made me happy!
Christian Wade is one of the most exciting players I’ve seen. From a standing start he’s absolute mustard and he could go round three opponents in a phone box. I text him regularly and often have a drink with his mum and dad after a match.
I’m really concerned about England at the moment. I’d like us to employ a bigger, angrier pack, have more grunt from one to eight. Ellis Genge should start and Wadey should be on the wing.
I’m an ambassador for the Matt Hampson Foundation and Wooden Spoon Society. I auction dinners for charity for Hambo. People don’t know he’s a massive foodie, really into his grub and his wines because that’s something he can do the same as all his mates.
I’m the only person ever to go on Soccer AM holding a rugby ball because it was for Hambo and I’d promised I’d take it on. It’s such a worthy charity and I get to chat about rugby a lot, which is my one of favourite pastimes.
Wooden Spoon I got involved in after big Phil Vickery, who won Celebrity MasterChef, asked if I could spare some time. I’m very happy to do so.
It’s a busy time for me because in September I start my first theatre tour (see greggwallace.com for tickets). I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully something else will happen this season – Wasps will beat Exeter or Saracens. We seem to be able to beat everybody else comfortably apart from those two!
“The best thing I ever did for my
son was to take him to rugby”
“Absolute mustard” Wasps’ Christian Wade