Will Greenwood is a former rugby union player and member of the 2003 World Cup-winning England Squad. After cementing his love of rugby while completing an Economics degree at Durham University, Will’s professional career saw him play for Leicester Tigers and Harlequins, and establish his place in the England team with 55 international caps and an impressive 31 tries – the second highest number ever scored internationally by a centre. Now a sports analyst and reporter, we spoke to Will about his love of the game and his ambitions for the future.
How did you choose rugby as your sport, and when did you know you wanted to do it professionally?
I played all sports until the age of about 21 – just did everything as often as possible with no real focus on one over the other. I started getting a bit of recognition in rugby when I was playing for the England under 21’s, but I was going to university to get an economics degree and it was only ever a hobby. It was just when rugby turned professional in 1996 that I had to make a decision and decided to try rugby as a professional. I gave myself a two year window to see if I could do it and make it, otherwise I would’ve gone back to being a foreign exchange trader.
You’re an analyst for Sky Sports and write a column for the Daily Telegraph – what’s the best thing about watching play from this perspective?
I’m word-perfect at predicting the past! At the heart of it, the reality is I just love seeing teams understand defensive systems that they’re facing, or working out how to stop great attacking teams, or coming up with new ideas. That’s what gets me to watch loads of games at the beginning of the week to make sure I’m on top of everything. It’s the genuine belief that the next game I watch, I’m going to see something that’s worth an article on its own.
The game has changed so much in the last decade – what are your thoughts on more recent changes like the new high tackle rule?
It’s important to understand that you have to set rules that are applicable to all aspects of the game. You’ve got to have a consistent message and the reality is that, even though there are some people accusing the game of ‘going soft’, the incidence of head injuries are far too high. We have to trust that the medics and the people behind World Rugby have got all the data in front of them to make these decisions.
You’ve been an ambassador for Canterbury for a number of years – why do you think this relationship has lasted?
I’m currently wearing the polo shirt so the top half of my body is like a Canterbury advert, and I’m about to change into full Canterbury gear to go down the rugby club and take a training session! They’re great products, and the people behind the are passionate about the sport I love. It makes me feel good every time I put it on, which is important to an athlete.
What’s your favourite item of kit?
I’ve got a training gilet which has got a couple of perfect pockets for my whistles and notes when I’m training. I’m working with the lads on technique and skill, so it keeps me warm and gives me flexibility in speed and movement.
What’s coming next in your career?
I love being involved on the analysis and the writing side and still like getting my hands dirty with my local team. I’m genuinely unsure about whether I’ll be behind a microphone or on a training pitch in three years time. At the moment I’m focusing on being the best commentator, analyser, writer, the best I can be.