|Weight||109kg (17st 2lb)|
A winning 80-minute debut for Tom Wood in the Wales match at Cardiff in February 2011 complemented an irresistible personal and team performance and he was equally impressive in the subsequent victories over Italy and France. His seventh consecutive cap came in the Wales game at the Millennium Stadium in August 2011 when he started for the sixth time. Tom's RWC debut followed against Georgia in Dunedin.
He sustained an injury to his left big toe the following January that prevented him from adding to his Test appearances in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship and the summer tour of South Africa. His first start in two months brought the man of the match award when Northampton beat the Scarlets 27-12 on March 11 to reach the LV= Cup final, which Saints lost 26-14 to Leicester Tigers at Worcester a week later.
Three bigger prizes followed when he not only helped England to beat the All Blacks by a record 38-21 at Twickenham in December last year but he was also the QBE Man of the Match for his all-action and inspiring performance and, on his debut as captain, led his country to a 2-0 series win over Argentina in last June. His 13 tackles in the France match at Stade de France in February this year were the most by an England player in the game.
Tom started all of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship games, the initial one against Scotland as a No.6 before switching to the middle of the back row. He was the leading ball winner in the line out from either side when England beat Italy 18-11 at Twickenham that March.
He had overcome surgery on his right shoulder at the end of 2008, when Mike Ruddock, then the Worcester director of rugby, said: "Tom is an outstanding young forward and a fantastic product of our thriving Academy system. He has a very bright future." This was illustrated when, in late January 2010, he was enlisted for the England Elite Player Squad as an injury replacement for Tom Croft, of Leicester Tigers.
His first call for the Saxons training squad for the match against Ireland A at Bath on January 31, 2010 supported Ruddock's view and Tom played off the bench in the second win over Italy A in Treviso eight days later.
After Tom joined the Worcester Academy, he sustained a broken leg before a spell in New Zealand with North Otago gave him renewed confidence and eagerness to impress at Sixways, the home of the Warriors. He switched to Northampton Saints for the 2010-11 season.
Tom made an instant impression at Franklin's Gardens, being the Aviva Premiership Man of the Match on his debut when Saints beat Leicester Tigers, who were the reigning champions, by 27-19.
He was educated at Woodlands School, Coventry where his playing origins were at the Barkers' Butts club, once a school old boys' team, near Meriden, which has been renowned for an academy of its own. His father Andy played National League rugby as a back row forward for Barkers' and Birmingham & Solihull and Tom's younger brother Rob was a Worcester Academy member.
Tom joins some eminent graduates from Barkers' in multi-capped former England flanker Neil Back, Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, and ex-England players Leon Lloyd, Danny Grewcock and Rob Hardwick. They are an inspiration in themselves.
2011 W, It, F, S, I, W(R), W World Cup - G, R(R) 2012 Fj(R), A(R), SA, NZ 2013 S, I, F, It, W, Arg(1,2), A, Arg, NZ 2014 F, S, I
Last updated: February 27, 2014