Half-century up for May, six years after first sober cap
Jonny May has revealed that only by missing a drinking session to have dinner with his parents did he make his England debut.
The wing will win his 50th cap in the World Cup quarter-final against Australia on Saturday, but his first came about in bizarre circumstances.
Having not been selected by former head coach Stuart Lancaster on England’s tour to Argentina in 2013, May had given up hope.
On the morning of the third Test, however, Christian Wade was called up for the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia as an injury replacement and having been the only one of the initial non-23 players to miss a team night out the previous evening May was called up, partly on account of his sobriety.
“It didn’t really go how I’d have thought,” the 29-year-old May recalled. “We picked 14 backs or something in the squad and I was looking around, it was Lions year and I thought ‘I’m probably going to get a game’. So my mum and dad came out and I wasn’t picked for the first, then I wasn’t picked for the second game and – I didn’t feel ashamed – but I didn’t feel great because it looked like I wasn’t going to get a game.
“But then Christian got called up for the Lions on the morning of the game and, basically because my mum and dad were out, I went out for dinner with them and all the other non-23 players went out on the p---, so I got the ‘go on, you can play’ pretty much!”
May said he still gets the same thrill ahead of playing for England.
“Every time it’s been an honour, to do it 50 times is a great achievement,” May said. “I’ve had injuries, I’ve been picked, I’ve not been picked, I’ve had terrible games and good times as well.
“I’ve got goosebumps because I’m so excited to go out there this weekend and try to raise the bar.”