Before the Welsh prop was forced to retire due to neck injuries, he sat down with Rugby World to chat about his kids, travelling, Matthew Rees, Band Aid and being allergic to DIY.
RUGBY WORLD: You were called up from the UK as a late replacement for Wales’ second Test against Australia. How did you find it?
CHRIS HORSMAN: It was interesting, but I didn’t see much. I just went to the hotel, the stadium and home again!
RW: Didn’t you get a bit disorientated when you first arrived in Brisbane?
CH: Yeah. We were staying in the Hilton and it was the afternoon when I got there so I was told to have just an hour’s sleep before training. I woke up and didn’t know where I was. All I could think about was where my kids – Dan, 2, and Grace, 4 – were. I thought I’d left them on their own in a 30-storey building. I was in a right panic, then I remembered I was in Australia not Bristol.
RW: Do you remember much about coming on as a sub in the game?
CH: You switch on for the game. As soon as you run onto the field you forget you have only just got out there and it felt like I’d been with the squad for three weeks. By the time I got to Brisbane airport the next day, though, I was shattered. I took a couple of sleeping tablets and slept all the way to Bangkok, then I had a chance to buy my kids some presents.
RW: Do they watch you play on TV?
CH: My son does, but my daughter’s seen a couple of games when I’ve been told off by the ref so she doesn’t like it.
Nicknames, Nerves and New beginnings…
RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on the pitch?
CH: Nothing funny ever happens to me – I’m either told off or sent off! But I did hear this great story from Matthew Rees. He was on the bench for Pontypridd in a cup game in France and he was sat with Mefin Davies watching the second half and talking. Then a scrum formed and everyone was looking around for the hooker – Matthew had forgotten he’d been sent on for Mefin at half-time.
RW: What about practical jokes?
CH: Tim Collier and I are notorious in the changing room at Worcester. We sit in the corner with Chris and Lee Fortey and Tony Windo, and all get stuck into each other. There’s been cars covered in shaving foam and someone put a dog turd in Tim’s trainers. We have an agreement in our corner, though, that you can’t throw your toys out of the pram. Kai Horstmann gets a lot of grief off us and likes it when I’m on Wales duty, although Tim seems to miss me.
RW: Do you have a nickname?
CH: Horse. My middle name is Les and the lads also call me Lay-by Les because they all overtake me doing 55mph on the motorway. I’m just never in a rush.
RW: Have you ever been starstruck?
CH: I once met Michaela Strachan when I was 21. I had a big crush on her and was a bit of a jibbering wreck.
RW: Do you have a karaoke song?
CH: The Band Aid song. After my first cap I sang Mandy by Barry Manilow and I’ve had a few encore requests. Alun-Wyn Jones thinks he’s a great singer. He may have a better voice than me but he’s not a better showman – you’ve got to work the bus!
RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?
CH: I’d like to get my loft done before Christmas – and my bathroom.
RW: Do you like DIY?
CH: Oh no, I’m getting people in to do it. I come from a long line of non-DIYers. I’ve tried but things just fall apart.
RW: What embarrasses you?
CH: Not much, I don’t get embarrassed easily. Actually, my partner Angie’s singing. I’ve got a lovely mother-in-law and two lovely sisters-in-law, but when they’re all in Bristol they like to sing to the kids – anything that’s out of tune.
Even though Chris has retired, he still remains immersed in the sport. He is now a trained referee, ironic really, as he was always on the wrong side of the law.
Check out the clip of his new career…