“I’m on the RFU council, and I have to say that the investment in grass-roots is as high as it’s ever been,” Vickery told Rugby World, “but I genuinely want amateur and grass-roots rugby to get as much exposure as possible. Is the exposure enough at the moment? Probably not.
“I believe we (England Rugby) are in the right position – it may worry some that I say what I think, but I want to see more going down to the amateurs and pro sides could do more with grass-roots.”
Junior and amateur rugby came up as Vickery was promoting his drive to sign up some amateur players to join his beach rugby side, as part of Sharp’s Brewery’s ‘There’s an adventure brewing campaign’.
He continued: “I recently helped raise money for the Gloucester Rowing Club – it’s amazing to me that after 2012 and the great rowing successes that we still have to raise money for modern-day rowing. Now I’m not saying that rugby will be like this after the World Cup. But we need to invest in all areas of the game.
“It’s a great thing to invest in rugby, to feel proud of your rugby club and the players; to be proud of the people. I get people talking to me from St Austell’s 2nd XV or Gloucester Old Knights, asking about the game. The elite side of things is absolutely important, but don’t forget the teachers and the coaches who give their time up – my mum’s done her fair share – because ultimately it’s an amateur game. Don’t look down on that.”
The former Lions, Wasps and Gloucester tighthead prop also explains that while he has been impressed with young England props like Dan Cole, Harlequins’ Kyle Sinckler – “he’s looked half-tasty” – and Northampton Saints loosehead Alex Waller, there are issues for the world game at the set-piece.
“Looking at the scrum, rugby is now a global sport and it has to be something people want to watch. If I’m trying to get a friend to watch rugby, even I’m now thinking twice because the scrum is a mess. Also, if they had kids who wanted to play, why would they? It has to have a global appeal.
“Refs don’t help sometimes with their zero tolerance and what happened to the talk of going back to hooking? But players have a responsibility as well as officials. I’m still a believer in positivity.
“From a safety point of view the recent changes to the scrum engagement have been a massive plus. Of course advantage in the scrum hasn’t always been legal, but my fundamental point is: if you’ve got two packs with a positive approach, and coaches with a positive approach then 99% of the time we’ll have a positive outcome from a scrum. As soon as people are giving up and not wanting to scrummage you’ll have problems.”
To be in with a chance of making Vickery’s beach rugby team, visit http://www.sharpsadventure.co.uk/, fill out the forms and maybe even upload a video of your skills.