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Mike Tindall: A brief rugby history

By Sam Smith
Former England and Gloucester Rugby Player Mike Tindall looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on February 14, 2020 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

While for many Mike Tindall will be better known for his royal marriage and his newfound career as a reality television star, for rugby fans he will enduringly be me known as a no-nonsense centre who made his mark in both Test rugby and domestically in the Premiership.

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Tindall, born in Otley, West Yorkshire, won 75 caps for England during his 17-year playing career, scoring a try on his international debut against Ireland in 2000.

He featured in the centres for England during their Rugby World Cup 2003 success, maybe most famously picking up and dumping Wallabies scrumhalf George Gregan in the final.

He captained England in 2011, scored 14 tries in total and made his final appearance for his country the same year.

His international career wasn’t without blemishes. He was thrown out of the England squad and fined £25,000 by the Rugby Football Union for his “unacceptable” drunken conduct during the 2011 World Cup, held in New Zealand from September to October.

Tindall, who had attended a ‘dwarf-racing contest’ at a Queenstown bar, was later reinstated by England on appeal and saw his fine reduced to £15,000.

In July that same year, Tindall had married Zara Phillips, the daughter of Anne, Princess Royal, in Edinburgh.

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He joined first club Bath in 1997 straight from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield and made 108 appearances before signing for West Country rivals Gloucester in 2005.

Tindall featured in 181 games for Gloucester and in 2012 became player-coach at the club and announced his retirement from rugby in 2014.

Thirty-five at the time, he became the final member of Sir Clive Woodward’s triumphant 2003 squad to call time on his playing career.

He confirmed his decision four days after good friend and former team-mate Iain Balshaw became the penultimate member of England’s World Cup-winning side to retire.

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When announcing his retirement, Tindall told BBC Five Live: “It wasn’t a hard decision in the end. It was a case of staying another year at Gloucester or retiring.

“I didn’t want to go and play at another club so it was an easy decision. No way would I change anything or feel sad about anything.”

additional reporting PA

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