As he returns to Gloucester, he talks fitness, films and funny moments

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Downtime with… England wing Jonny May

What’s it like being back at Gloucester?

It’s been really nice so far. It’s just nice being back playing rugby and having a bit of a routine. I did enjoy the isolation period but by the end of it I was ready to get back. I’m obviously happy to be back here and to be closer to my family, and I’m really enjoying training. We have a really good group.

What did you enjoy about isolation?

I fractured my cheek against Wales (in March) so I couldn’t play anyway and I quite enjoyed a break from rugby at that stage. It’s World Cup year, I’d had a sore foot then fractured my cheek, so I needed a break.

I enjoy doing my own training anyway and I was able to have a good routine at home to get the body feeling good. I achieved that, got right physically and mentally, and now is a perfect time to come back and start rugby.

And your wife worked out with you in lockdown… 

She’s a PT so she’s understanding and won’t eat cookies if I’m trying to eat clean. She’d come to the park to pass the ball with me. We want to eat well and train together – it was good.

What are your phobias? 

I don’t really like heights, so I’m not interested in bungee-jumping or parachuting. I used to not like flying but I’ve got used to it as I’ve done it a fair bit now. Nobody likes turbulence but I used to freak out.

Have you any superstitions? 

I believe in alternative therapies – acupuncture, reiki… There are a lot of things we don’t understand but I do believe in alternative medicine and energy systems.

What’s your most embarrassing moment? 

I don’t tend to get embarrassed. Sometimes I like being the joke and I’m happy to laugh at myself. I remember even when I got my shorts pulled down when playing for the U20s, I saw the funny side of it.

Is it the same with the footage of you packing down in the scrum… 

I guess that was a little embarrassing but it’s not scarred me.

What annoys you? 

I hate people who litter. If someone leaves a cigarette or crisp packet, I tell them off. I really hate animal cruelty too – that makes my blood boil. I’ve done things for the Dogs Trust and other charities.

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

My wife, Sophie. We’ve just done isolation together so we can do a lift.

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

When we played the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town (in 2018), it pissed it down. The Zulu performers ran out onto the pitch one after the other – one stacked it, the next one stacked it…

At the time you’re noticing it but you’re focused; you’re in the moment and ready to play. On reflection when I was back in England – and my mum had kept it on Sky Planner – seeing them go arse over tit three times in a row… Eddie Jones said it was a good omen for us.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

Time travel. Just to have the control to rewind or fast-forward, to do what you want.

What would you save if your house was on fire? 

Sophie is safe. I don’t really love possessions, so I don’t know what I’d grab. I wouldn’t risk my health for any object.

Any nicknames? 

Just Jonny.

Your three dream dinner party guests… 

I’d always like to get politicians to find out the answers to stuff. Off the top of my head, Boris Johnson, President Trump and Barack Obama. With those last two hopefully you’d get a lot of information. I’d love to know what I don’t know – and there are a lot of things we don’t know.

Although, if they’re just coming to a dinner party, you don’t know that they’ll tell you things, so it’s probably a terrible answer and I’d have been better off going with people I could have fun with.

England wing Jonny May

Friends reunited: Gloucester’s Jonny May is tackled by his former club Leicester (Getty Images)

Your Mastermind specialist subject? 

I’m shocking at quizzes. I’d probably go for something like animated films or Disney films. Hercules is my favourite.

And guilty pleasure?

It has to be food of some sort – biscuits or fizzy drinks.

Any hidden talents? 

I can play the drums but I don’t have a drum set any more. I had an electric drum set that I brought into the club and left in the team room (during his previous spell at Gloucester). We were talking about it today in the gym and I asked if it was still there. It’s not, so somebody has obviously taken it whilst I’ve been away.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

Just happiness.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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