Thursday 7th December 2006
It's Strictly Come Rugby for Croft
Most rugby fans are enjoying watching former England scrum half Matt Dawson strutting his stuff on a Saturday night on the hit BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing, but 21 year old England Sevens player Tom Croft has a more informed opinion on the former Wasp's performance. Between the ages of 12 and 16 Tom was part of the West Berkshire Youth Dance Group and studied Dance to GCSE level.
The Leicester Tigers player, who at six foot six is the tallest member of the England Sevens squad, says, "I must admit I am not really rooting for Matt to win as I prefer Baby Spice. I have watched the programme occasionally although I am not an avid fan. People may not realise that dancing and rugby have a lot in common, and dancing during my teens has definitely helped me in my rugby career."
Tom first started playing rugby aged 11 at Newbury but joined Tigers Academy at 16, as well as playing at Oakham (where fellow Tiger Lewis Moody also studied). Tom is not embarrassed by his dancing background and says it's not something he gets teased about. "My nickname at Tigers is Yoggy and although the boys know about my dancing history I get more stick about other things!"
Tom's training consisted of contemporary, modern and street dancing and he credits much of his agility on the rugby pitch to his former hobby. "It has definitely helped me become more agile, especially in the air, and has helped with line outs and jumping for the ball. It has also helped my general play as dancing improves your co-ordination and fitness."
The young flanker is currently in South Africa with the England Sevens team having made his debut last weekend in the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens. Tom made his Tigers debut in December 2005 against Gloucester, and scored a try for Leicester in the Middlesex Sevens that summer.
Playing sevens will suit the Under 21 Grand Slam Winner who is recorded as the third quickest player at Leicester Tigers. He says, "We were tested about a year ago over 10 and 40 metres and I came third behind (fellow England Sevens player) Tom Varndell and Scott Beamand. I really enjoyed playing sevens last weekend. It was a lot quicker than I imagined and I liked the extra freedom from there only being seven players on the pitch."
Tomorrow Tom will once again take to the pitch for England as they play in the Emirates Airline George Sevens, where they face Wales, Portugal and Argentina in the pools. England are looking to claim an early tournament win, having lost in the semi finals last weekend, but despite his expertise on the dance floor Tom admits to being a bit shy when it comes to the post tournament party. "It usually takes me a little bit of time before I actually get onto the dance floor and dance. I prefer to let the other boys get things started first!"
Keep up to date with Tom and the rest of the England Sevens team's progress in George at rfu.com/sevens
For player interviews please contact Sally Price, England Sevens Media Manager on 07801 802 711.