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September 2, 2011 9:49 pm
Will Greenwood MBE, 38, is the second-highest try scorer in English rugby history and helped England achieve victory at the Rugby World Cup in 2003. He made his professional debut for Harlequins in 1994 and first played for England in 1997.
What was your earliest ambition?
I really didn’t want to be anything in particular. I just pootled along as a Lancastrian village boy.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
Sedbergh School in Cumbria, then Durham University, where I studied economics.
Who is your mentor?
My mum and dad, my biggest fans and harshest critics.
How physically fit are you?
My nickname at school was Stick Man. I’m possibly the weediest man ever to win a World Cup medal. I can do a decent run and a decent row, but members of the women’s team can bench press more than me.
Rodney Trotter (my double); a gazelle, because when I played rugby safaris with my pals and we picked a team of animals, I saw myself as one; a stoat, because the strong take from the weak but the smart take from the strong.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
You can win without ambition.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
No. Because I’m Dr Greenwood [he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law by Durham University in 2006], people assume I’m intelligent, but the last thing I’d want to do is take an IQ test.
How politically committed are you?
I grew up in a household with two teachers and I was in boarding school from the age of six to 18, so I think I’ve always assumed that people in a position of power are right. How foolish am I?
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
We recycle. But I have to go to the beach in the summer and the mountains in the winter. We never do long haul unless it’s for work.
Do you have more than one home?
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A ski chalet. I could never ski during my career and just started last year. I’m mad for it – but rubbish.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
When I’m in London, I’ll often get a taxi home.
In what place are you happiest?
With my three kids. And still, at 38, running around with kids on a rugby field. When I say kids, they can be six years old or 38 years old.
What ambitions do you still have?
To get to a situation where I can pay for my grandchildren’s education.
What drives you on?
To be as good as I can be in the job that’s in front of me. I’ve started a new business and am trying to make it thrive. Super Skills Travel is rugby coaching holidays for kids, coaching with legends at great resorts.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
The way my wife and I reacted to losing our son Freddie in 2002, on a personal level, a charitable level and on a playing field level. There were times when we just didn’t want to leave the house.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
Injuries denied me about three years of my career. And, at the time, the break-up of Take That.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
He wouldn’t be surprised. I always wanted kids, a nice house, to settle down. Medals are by the by.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Pick up the phone and start again. I don’t fear that in any way, shape or form. Losing a little boy changes what you think about career, finance, tangible things.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Yes. Life’s not about short cuts, but I don’t believe in people suffering if they don’t have to.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I’d have to be a miserable sod if I didn’t give myself an eight.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup begins on September 9.
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