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'It's so tough': The interview that moved Ben Youngs to tears

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by England Rugby)

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Record-breaking England scrum-half Ben Youngs was moved to tears this week when talking about his older brother Tom on the England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line. The half-back will become England’s most capped player when he surpasses Jason Leonard’s milestone of 114 appearances in this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match against Wales at Twickenham.

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However, it was when talking about his family – not the impending all-time England caps record – when Youngs was overcome with emotion during the 18-and-a-half minute podcast reviewing his stellar career. 

The 32-year-old was first capped by England in 2010, an honour matched by Tom, his 35-year-old brother, in 2012 and they went on to feature together for their country until the end of the 2015 World Cup. 

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The siblings, who also toured with the 2013 Lions, have both spent their club careers at Leicester but this day-to-day existence was ruptured when Tom took an indefinite leave from rugby ahead of this season to care for his wife, who is battling illness. 

Talking about the strong relationship he has with Tom resulted in Ben shedding tears during an emotional podcast that was released ahead of his record-breaking milestone appearance with England.

“There is a void, there is like a bit of emptiness at the moment because I don’t get to see him as much as I would like,” said Ben. “It has probably taught me and reinforced just how important we are for each other. It’s weird to think I have had all those years together and playing and all that and then it’s sort of finishing, I wish I knew that that was going to be the last time… It’s a tough subject.   

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better sibling, to be honest with you. I have seen my brother every day for 32 years, growing up with him and then being a professional rugby player with him until he left in September and had to go back. It has been a strange time, a tough time. 

“I confide in my brother a lot about what happens professionally because a lot of the things he gets. Not many people have an industry where you can relate to what that person feels and goes through. So you have your highest highs and your lowest lows and how often do people get that at the same time? Not very often.”

England centurion Youngs also spoke about his childhood dyslexia diagnosis and how he hopes to be giving back to the rugby grassroots whenever his career as a professional player comes to an end. “I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was nine years old. At first, they just thought I was potentially just lazy. 

“Like, having to stand up and read a passage or do things like that was so out of my comfort zone that it felt like the walls were closing in. The whole class probably felt, ‘Oh no, is Ben reading that? It’s going to take 20 minutes to do a page’.  

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“I’m 32 now, I certainly won’t be playing at 42, not professionally anyway. I will be giving back to the game that I Iove. I probably will be doing the Sunday rugby, I will be doing the school or something, I will be trying to help out in my local community because the next group comes from grassroots. I’ll be giving something back to the game for sure.”  

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