The Last Hurrah of Mike Tindall

July 1, 2012 5:29 pm

Former England captain, Mike Tindall, has recently agreed to a new deal with Premiership rugby outfit Gloucester to become player-coach. The ex-England centre had left the side who finished  in ninth place last season after his contract has expired after the last match against London Irish. There had been speculation that he might decide to hang up his boots after representing the Barbarians against England shortly after the seasons close, but this latest move will see him play on for at least one more Premiership campaign. Questions still remain over how often he will feature for the side over the coming year and if he will be a successful backs coach while still playing on for Gloucester. In the aftermath of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Tindall has fallen from grace at quite a speed and only time will tell if he can sign off his playing career on a high note and then make waves as a coach.

When the regular Premiership season ended, there was no word on what Tindall’s next career move would be. There was no clear word from the man himself and no other Premiership club came out and publicly stated that they were interested in his services. Since the disastrous World Cup campaign of 2011 on and off the field, Tindall’s stock has crashed and when his age is taken into account (Tindall is 33), he is increasingly seen as a player on his way out. It seemed that Gloucester was the only club left for him to go back to after lukewarm interest from France.

Gloucester’s new Director of Rugby, Nigel Davies, has shown that he has faith in Tindall’s ability as a player and clearly believes that he can transfer his skills to being a coach as well. Speaking to BBC Gloucester on Monday 25th, he said that “he’s shown passion, pride in the shirt as a player and I’m sure he’ll do equally as a coach.” This level of support will no doubt encourage Tindall after the unceremonious exclusion from England’s Elite Player squad and additional fine for off field antics during the World Cup. Even though Tindall managed to appeal against his dropping and was reinstated, new England coach Stuart Lancaster is not likely to include him in his plans unless a major injury crisis hits the England camp. Being shunned by the national side that he had captained competently would have been uncomfortable for Tindall, and being given the chance to play on for Gloucester as well as the chance to prepare for a coaches life after retiring as a player will be encouraging for him.

He returns to Kingsholm for an eighth season which equals his stay at Bath, from which he signed in 2005 and it is clear that Davies wants Tindall to return to the side to maintain some continuity going into the next season. It is very unlikely that Tindall, a former club captain, will carry on playing for many seasons more and it would not be surprising to see him retire at the end of the 2012/2013 season. Not being involved with England, while being a disappointment to the 2003 World cup winner, might well give him more of a chance to get used to his new coaching role and develop the necessary skills. It certainly appears that he does not want to earn a living being a TV pundit and instead would prefer staying at Gloucester and becoming a successful coach. It is also possible that he harbours ambitions for an England coaching role in the future to make amends for the disappointments and failings of the recent World Cup. It could be argues that he has unfinished business with England and while he could not end his playing career for the national side on a high, maybe he could do that as a coach in the future.

What ever the outcome over the next few years for Tindall’s career, we have to remember that he has been an outstanding servant for Bath, Gloucester and England. As mentioned above, he was part of Clive Woodward’s 2003 World Cup winning side and has also won domestic trophies during his club career. He has consistently been a good performer through his England days and his contribution to the national side must not be forgotten due to his fortunes since the World Cup. Although it is clear that his playing days are numbered, this might not be the last we see of Tindall. A world-class centre might be able to transform into a world-class coach over the next few years. Only time will tell.

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