Age: 28 (9 June 1983)
Richard Wigglesworth is one of three scrum-halves England took to New Zealand as part of their World Cup squad. Here the Saracen takes us through his rugby journey…
My hero is my father, Peter. He had a heart transplant years ago and is still going strong. My rugby career is down to him too. He discovered how good rugby was socially and physically when he started playing later on in his life, so he wanted that for his son too, tied in with going to a good school.
Growing up in Blackpool, on a farm, I was made on football but my dad was keen for me to do different things, and rugby was one of those. I was annoyed when he first sent me to a rugby school, Kirkham Grammar, at 11. I wanted to go to a football school like the rest of my mates, but I soon learned to love the sport.
I’m thankful for my dad’s judgement, as I wouldn’t have made the World Cup without him. I’m proof that you don’t need to play rugby all your life to make it as a professional and play for England.
I headed straight for the rugby team on my first day of school. No one knew what was going on and in the trial I gave it a good go, dodged a few people and I was in the team. I thought, ‘What’s going on?!’
I never stopped – all I was interested in was sport. I’d play football on Sunday mornings and rugby on Sunday afternoons and loved it.
My break came in the club system as from school I got my chance at Fylde and later at Preston Grasshoppers, aged 16. Until then I was playing just for enjoyment, but then I began to think I had an outside chance of making a career of the game.
I got a taste of England when called up for a couple of development days. That made me think I could give this sport a go. I looked around and thought, ‘I’m as good as anyone here’.
Two coaches were critical in my move from outside-half to scrum-half, Brian Gornall and Aled Trenhaile at Kirkham. I didn’t really grow until I was 18 and I think that was part of the reason for switching me to No 9.
From the start my passing was dominant off my left hand because I’m left-handed. So the process of changing positions meant I had to learn how to pass like a scrum-half off my right hand.
My work ethic comes from my dad. He was a farmer and has worked all his life. Some of his work ethic must have rubbed off as I’d spend half my lunchtimes between the ages of 16 and 17 in the gym at Kirkham passing, passing and passing some more. That’s when something clicked.
I felt obliged to be as good as I could for the school, never mind myself. It was a very professional environment. From an early age I’d be doing fitness on a Monday and I thrived.
I enjoyed doing the extra bits and still do now. I’d go home and work on my kicking and passing with my dad.
The best two years I had were when I signed for Sale with some people from my school – Matt Parr, Andy Kyriacou and Warren Spragg – and we moved in together. You’re with your best mates playing rugby every day.
I love Sale to bits but I felt there was something more in me and I’ve been proved right by last year’s move to Saracens.
The move has worked out well but it was a huge change, especially with a little girl, Matilda. My wife, Lyndsey, who has just had our second child, Freddie, has been a huge support.
The world cup has been thoroughly enjoyable on and off the field, even though I suffered massive peer pressure to do a bungee swing in Queenstown. I was petrified but finally told the guy running it just to push me off, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the jump myself!
DID YOU KNOW?
Wigglesworth is a passionate golfer. His family own a course and he’d like to have a single-figure handicap
This article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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