- England World Cup-winner joins 61-strong council
- “I have enjoyed the many rewards of playing the game and I want to give something back” – Vickery
Photo: Getty Images
Former England prop and 2003 Rugby World Cup-winner Phil Vickery has been rewarded for his immense contribution to the sport with election onto the RFU Council.
One of four newly-elected members, he attends his first meeting today alongside fellow inductees Tracy Edmundson (from Notts, Lincs and Derby), David McAteer (Berkshire) and John Rogers (Cumbria).
Joining Richard Hill and Jason Leonard – fellow members of Sir Clive Woodward’s famous side from a decade ago – Vickery takes his place on the 61-strong body as he looks to build on a stellar playing CV.
Embarking on his professional career at Gloucester Rugby in 1995, the proud Cornishman won the first of his 73 England caps against Wales at Twickenham in February 1998.
Steady progress at international level saw Vickery selected for the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, where he started all three Tests at tighthead.
While that series ended in an agonising 2-1 defeat, there were to be far happier memories on Antipodean soil just two years later as Jonny Wilkinson’s iconic drop-goal secured the Webb Ellis trophy for England.
Neck and back injuries began to take their toll on Vickery from there, but he remained a crucial part of his country’s set-up for the next four-year cycle when fit. The 'Raging Bull' skippered Brian Ashton's England on unlikely run to the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup – only narrowly missing out on consecutive triumphs to a very strong Springboks side.
In between times, a move from Kingsholm to Adams Park finally yielded domestic honours – London Wasps winning the Heineken Cup in 2006/7 in Vickery’s first season and adding the Guinness Premiership the following year.
The following summer saw an international swansong as Ian McGeechan picked Vickery for a second Lions tour to South Africa, where two more Test caps followed, his final one coming in the 28-9 victory over the hosts – a fitting end to a phenomenal stint at the highest level.
After more injury troubles, he was forced to retire on medical advice in October 2010, and is now intent on giving more to the game he loves.
“I have enjoyed the many rewards of playing the game, making lifelong friends and gaining incredible memories, both on and off the pitch,” Vickery said. “I want to continue to put something back and help others to benefit from all that rugby has to offer.
“This is a tremendously exciting time to be involved in the game in England as we look to make the most of the opportunity of hosting the World Cup. When we won in 2003 it not only raised the profile of the sport but inspired many more people to play.
“The RFU is already planning for this increased participation now, which means we will be ready to take advantage of this once in a generation chance in 2015. I am delighted to be part of it all.”