The team at AlexandAlexa were lucky enough to have the chance to work with rugby legend Will Greenwood. Will is widely regarded as one of England’s greatest ever rugby players with a professional career spanning 11 years. Will Greenwood was also famously an integral part of England’s victorious 2003 World Cup Team. These days Will spends much of his time developing young rugby talent and raising the profile of children’s charities. What better person to give us a hand in launching the official England replica kits for kids, now available online at AlexandAlexa.com. As a dad and coach, Will soon won over our mini rugby players Luca, Lucas and baby Tobi.
Interview with Will Greenwood:
What is your earliest rugby memory?
My father captained the England team so I have always played rugby. There are pictures of me in the crib holding a ball.
You talk about how you were always around sport growing up, how do you think your early involvement in sport and in particular rugby has shaped the person you are today?
I grew up in and around the rugby club, so for me club life was a way of life. In the club children will meet so many amazing people who will open doors for them and give them a wealth of opportunities. I’m not just talking about winning the World Cup and meeting the queen. These relationships will have an important part to play in any future they choose. Children will get a community experience and the club becomes a very important focus for family life.
You describe yourself as a grassroots man, what could we be doing in the UK to make sure we are developing great rugby talent from the bottom up?
Every weekend thousands of kids across the country are doing a great job playing for their Junior Clubs. Since the 2003 Rugby World Cup victory we have seen a huge increase in children taking up rugby in the UK. What’s important is to maintain this participation when they hit 14, 15 and 16 years of age. The talent in the 4 – 13 age bracket is really strong but we need to make sure we are supporting kids to continue on to these older levels.
Hopefully with the Rugby World Cup in 2015 we will see an increase in the game’s popularity again. We will see the kind of enthusiasm that we have seen with the Olympics and I think that the work that the RFU is doing will become not only more relevant but more prevalent.
“Teamwork, discipline and respect; these are good bricks with which to build the rest of your life with.”
There is much more to rugby than brawn. What other skills physically or emotionally does the game bring to the lives of youngsters?
Team sports will give them confidence and teach them about communication. As a Brand Ambassador for Canterbury and a coach for Super Skills Travel, I am involved in the coaching of 5-16 year olds. Obviously it would be great if we discovered the next Jonny Wilkinson, but it’s not just about that. It’s about giving them skills they can utilise for life, to give them enjoyment and to introduce regular sport into their routine. This leads to an active and healthy lifestyle, confidence, teamwork, discipline and respect; these are good bricks with which to build the rest of your life with.
What is in your essential kit bag?
Take your own towel to training or learn to become a really good towel thief. Towel thieves really are the bane of the changing room, Jason Leonard is one player to watch out for!
Aside from that good boots and a proper gum shield are essentials.
The essence of the Canterbury brand is spirit. If you don’t turn up with a fighting spirit and the determination to win for yourself and your team mates then you’re lost before you’ve even started.
A lot of parents worry about rugby being too dangerous for their kids to get involved in, what are your thoughts on this?
Changes have taken place in the game for youngsters to make sure the focus is always on enjoyment, involvement and skill but in the end rugby will always be a contact sport. Very few players will make it through their career without injuries, as is the case with all sports.
I can understand why mums would be anxious but the kids really love it. I think it is important to have an outlet for your adrenalin which you can structure your week around. If you have had a tough week at work you can always imagine that your opponent on the field is your boss!
“The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong”
Is there any special advice you had growing up with which helped you to become one of England’s greatest rugby players?
I had some great teachers at school. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is a saying that goes ‘The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong’. I was never the biggest guy in the team so I had to learn to really engage my brain during the game. Of course being 6.5 foot and 21 stone helps but by playing smart you can steal advantage over players.
This year’s England home kit, created by Canterbury, is strikingly simple with all-white shirts and shorts complete with the iconic red rose emblem, and midnight blue socks which hark back to England’s summer tour in 2007. Separates and kits for babies up to 14 years are available to purchase from AlexandAlexa’s online sports boutique now, with the away, training and supporters kits to follow next month. Kits are priced £50.00.