Gregg Wal­lace

The TV celebrity ex­plains why rugby is such an in­te­gral part of his life

Rugby World - - CONTENTS -

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

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