The Leicester Tigers Talk Teamsmanship, With Lily (11 1/4)

Lily Scott-Wright (aged 11 ¼) is a Leicester Tigers super fan. We asked her to catch up with Tigers Matt Smith (Centre), Harry Simmons (Scrum Half), Gaston Cortes (Prop), and Tommy Reffell (Back Row) to ask them about life as a rugby player and why teamwork is so important, both on the playing field and in the playground.

L ily’s prized possessions are two framed, signed rugby shirts and she’s at her happiest jumping up and down at Welford Road and Twickenham – when she can persuade her grown-ups to take her there. Her finest moment was confirmation from Tiger’s Hooker Greg Bateman that he heard her yelling support above the crowd at a match against local rivals Northampton Saints at Twickenham late last year. So when she got the chance to interview her sporting stars, what were the burning questions that only an 11 ¼ year old super fan would get away with?

Q: How long have you been playing together?

MS: “On this bench we’re anywhere between six months to 12 years. I’m very, very old so I’ve been here since 2006, I expect you were just a baby then Lily?”

LSW: “Nope, Sorry, it’s worse than that, I was born in 2007.”

Q: Are you friends off the pitch?

HS: “Yes, we are. It really helps and it makes our job so much easier and more rewarding.”

Q: Do you think that makes a difference to the team’s success on the pitch?

HS: “You try for each other, look out for each other. It definitely helps.”

GC: “It’s about trust. If you don’t have that off the pitch then you can’t have that on the pitch. It’s really important.”

Q: Who is your rugby idol?

MS: “Matt Hampson, he used to play for Leicester Tigers but he had an accident in 2005 during an England Under-21 training session, which left him paralysed from the neck down. Now he runs the Matt Hampson Foundation. If you play sport and get seriously hurt you can use the centre he’s founded. What he’s done is very special. I admire him a lot.”

Q: Why and when did you start playing rugby?

HS: “I started when I was four years old. My family were very rugby orientated so along with school that’s what they encouraged me to do – get out there and play.”

MS: “Four or five – my family all played rugby too.”

TR: “About 11, at secondary school. There was no football team so I had to play rugby!”

GC: “I was about 11 or 12. I used to play football but I like food too much, I was too big! Someone invited me to a rugby training session and that was that.”


Q: If you could have anyone in the world (dead or alive) on your team who would it be?

Collectively: “Johnny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson – he properly sorts out a match! Jonah Lomu – he was one of the all-time greats of rugby.”

Q: What does teamwork mean to you?

TR: “It means all working together towards the same goal, working for and with your mates.”

HS: “We have a motto – team first. You put the team before yourself and your own views or opinions. If it’s not helping or working for the team then you need to decide whether you should be doing it in the first place. Team first. Nice and simple.”

Q: How does this help you on the pitch?

MS: “It gives you trust in each other.”

HS: “You help each other. If someone is having a tough time you look out for them.”

GC: “When you work together well as a team you know what everyone is going to do, which really helps the game.”

Q: How bad is it if someone farts in the scrum?

Collectively (after much laughter and stories that are best not printed): “It’s really not good! You do not want to be in the middle of that!

Q: What is the funniest thing that you’ve seen happen on the pitch?

MS: “To carry on from your fart/scrum question I’ve seen someone poo themselves on the pitch. But I’m not going to tell you who that was.”

LSW: “Please tell me it wasn’t in the scrum?!”

HS: “When I was at school I saw someone break through on a try and turn around to smile to the onlookers and run straight, slap bang, into the post.”

MS: “Someone we know (again, not mentioning names) got caught picking their nose on camera the other day.”

GC: “I’ve seen more than a few bums on pitch!”

Q: What has been your proudest moment?

HS: “Playing my first professional game.”

GC: “Playing for Argentina, for my country.”

TR: “Playing for my national side and my first game for Tigers.”

MS: “The first time I played the Premiership.”

Q: Has anyone ever tripped up on the way out to the pitch?

Collectively: “Yes! So many people have slipped on the way out. There was an almost somersault achieved once!”

Q: What is the best thing about being part of a team?

MS: “It’s like being at school, being with your mates every day. It’s like we haven’t grown up, we can still be big kids. My friends who’ve retired from the game say that’s what they miss the most, being around their mates every day and sharing these experiences together.”

Q: I think this needs to be answered. Who’s got the smelliest socks?

Collectively: “Got to say George Worth! Yep. George.”

LSW: “This is a good example of teamwork, a joint decision!”

Q: If you couldn’t play rugby what sport would you choose?

MS: “Something that doesn’t involve getting run into by very big people! Golf maybe?”

Q: Do you think you could play a solo sport such as golf after being part of a team for so long?

MS: “I think mentally that would be tough. You banter off each other all the time, if a player’s going through a tough time they’ve got team members to bounce off. Camaraderie and having a team around you goes a very long way.”

Q: This also needs answering. Who is the best and who is the worst best dressed player?

Collectively: “Worst – Dan Cole, he dresses like a very old man, but he’s not an old man. And Fred Tuilagi, he’s runner up. Best – Gareth Owen. Definitely.”

MS: “The single lads are without a doubt the best dressed, the ones that are married with kids don’t make such an effort, sad but true!”

Q: What’s the grossest injury you’ve seen on the pitch?

TR: “Probably a serious knee injury. Bad ligament damage and where the leg is facing the wrong way. Not nice.”

MS: “I’ve seen someone on purpose hyper extend someone’s elbow. There was a very, very loud squeal and he was banned for a long time. That was very disgusting.”

Q: I’m taking you out for dinner tonight (you’re paying) Chinese or Indian?

HS: “Chinese”

TR: “Chinese”

MS: “Indian”

GC: “I’m Argentinian. Can I have steak?”

LSW: “So long as you’re paying!”

Q: We’ve got a question for you Lily. Who’s your favourite player. We won’t be offended. You can choose three, OK four!

LSW: “Greg Bateman. Oops! Oh and by the way, I’m available for pep talks for the team.”

MS: “We might hire you!”

Since her interview Lily has added sports journalism to her list of possible future careers, pushing zoologist and unspecified YouTube sensation down a notch or two.  

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