The second-row on shoddy looks, squishy team-mates and swimming the Channel

Downtime with… Bath lock Dave Attwood

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch? 

Rob Webber was chasing a charge-down and, a bit of gamesmanship, he ran into (referee) JP Doyle and fell to the floor! I’ve seen JP many times since and he still talks about the time that he floored Rob Webber!

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

Callum Sheedy. He’s very friendly, he doesn’t take up much space, he’s nice and squishy like a pillow. He’d do everything I asked him to do and he’s quiet, so he wouldn’t get on my nerves.

Do you have any phobias?

Heights. Which is ironic for a lineout forward.

Would you go up, say, the Eiffel Tower? 

I would but I’d be clinging to the side the entire way. I’d never go in a hot-air balloon and as for bungee jumping, you must be absolutely off your rocker.

Best prank played by a team-mate? 

Freddie Burns got a new Range Rover and, being No 10 in the team, he got a custom number plate, FB10. Charlie Ewels changed the plate to FB23.

What really annoys you? 

When players run around with their socks round their ankles. It looks shoddy. Some people say, “Oh, my calves get tight” – I don’t buy it! They do it because they think it looks cool.

Any superstitions? 

I try to do a crossword on the day of a game. Usually the Times 2 crossword. And I’m a stickler for filing my toenails before a game, to the disgust of many.

Your most embarrassing moment? 

Dropping the ball at Twickenham against Samoa. The only try I would have scored for England.

I cut a line outside George Ford, he drew the full-back and put it right in my hands to score and I dropped the ball.

If your house was on fire, what’s the first item you’d save? 

It would have to be something small, I’m not going to be able to take out a sofa. Maybe the liquor cabinet, try to get all my alcohol outside.

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind

Harry Potter. I’m a massive fan. James Haskell and I used to spend time at Pennyhill chatting Harry Potter, but don’t tell anyone that.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? 

When I was at university, every Friday there was a formal dinner. For our end-of-year ball it had to be one step fancier, so I got a top hat and cane.

Do you still plan to be a solicitor? 

No, I’m changing tack. Hopefully I’ll get to Cambridge this year and do a masters in environmental sustainability. Part-time.

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests? 

Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, two incredibly imperious figures in history about whom we don’t know an awful lot. And I’d be tempted to throw David Attenborough in there. He’s an absolute legend.

Do you have any hidden talents? 

I’m an okay juggler, I speak a bit of French. I’m an okay swimmer – I’ve just agreed to swim across the Channel next summer. I’m part of a relay. I’m going to have to find time to do some swimming training.

Who would you love to have seen get a chance at Test level? 

Nathan Catt. Injury robbed him of the opportunity but he could have been a 50-capper.

What’s the best present you’ve ever received? 

My girlfriend nailed it last Christmas, she got me tickets to the Harry Potter train in Scotland.

What’s the most memorable headline you’ve seen about you? 

I have a copy of an article, from The Telegraph. The headline is Dave Attwood, you should choose to play against the All Blacks instead of being at the birth of your first child. I’ve put it on my daughter’s wall!

Got any nicknames? 

I used to have a bouffant of blond hair and Darren Crompton, the old Bristol prop, used to call me Pat Butcher. And the Pennycook brothers dubbed me Swan Arms because of the way I held my arms as I jumped in a lineout. James Haskell’s favourite for me was Lord Smugwood.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Pizza and Aperol Spritz. A very summertime drink.

What’s the best book you’ve read? 

The Secret Barrister. It’s anonymous and talks about cases and problems with the legal system. Absolutely fascinating.

What was your first job? 

A butcher’s lad in Bristol. I used to clean the fridges and help out in the shop, chopping up meat.

How’d you like to be remembered? 

As someone who helped other people out and didn’t let anyone down.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World magazine’s October 2022 edition.

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