Phil de Glanville: Looking Back, Changes and Words of Advice.

Phil de Glanville, a former England Captain gaining 38 caps for his country between the years of 1992-1998 gives us an a snapshot of game during the 90’s, advice to budding sports persons and his thoughts on the student rugby game.

The time at which he played was very interesting due to the professionalisation of the game in addition to the historical 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Here’s a brief clip of de Glanville going over the whitewash for Bath in 1994 against Saracens. Note, before professionalisation quite a different scene from today’s matches!

He too has faced the likes of the great late Jonah Lomu of the All Blacks, check out this clip from 1997, de Glanville being number 12.

de Glanville now works as a consultant for executive search company, Hanover-Fox International.


  • Debut International Match: England-South Africa November 14th, 1992 Twickenham.
  • Final International Match: England-South Africa October 24th, 1999. Stade de France. Total international stats can be found here.
  • Number of points for country: 40
  • Club: Bath Rugby 1989-2001 (making 202 appearances!) scoring 53 tries.
  • First World Cup Tournament: South Africa 1995
  • Position: Centre

Question Time

During your playing career what would you say was your personal greatest achievement?

  • It is hard to choose one, so I would list three – Playing in two World Cups for England in 1995 and 1999, captaining England for a season in 1996-97, and winning the European Cup with Bath RFC in 1998.

You studied Economics and Politics at Durham and a postgraduate Diploma in Politics and Sociology at Oxford, what advice would you give to budding sportspersons who are currently balancing or looking to balance both their academic lives and sport?

  • My first bit if advice is that you can do it all – there will be lots of sacrifices needed, for your own personal life and friends and family, but it can be done.
  • You need to really enjoy both – make sure you pick the right course at the right institution, and explore whether there is any flexibility in the study options as you will need it if performing at a high sporting level.
  • Make sure you have mentors in the academic institution who can help you balance it all.
  • Planning is key – map out your commitments for study and for sport across the year, and resolve any clashes as soon as you spot them.
  • Make sure you plan for time to rest and recover!

Your career took place during an uncertain time period as to whether the game was to professionalise in the mid-90’s, what were your personal thoughts during that time?

  • It was a period of absolute chaos, once the RFU had said the game could go professional, with big commercial characters blowing the game wide open with big money offers almost immediately. With John Hall, (the team manager at Bath RFC) I was very concerned to safeguard the future of the club and not lose all our players overnight to other clubs. This was a very real issue until Andrew Brownsword committed to buy the club and invest in the playing squad. There was a real doubt about whether professionalism would be sustainable for the sport too in the first year or two, which was a big factor for players considering whether to give up their day jobs.

You are Student RFU Representative on the RFU Council and the first ever BUCS Super Rugby season has just finished. This new format showing promise and high quality of play, what do you see for the future of Student Rugby?

  • Student rugby has a huge part to play across all aspects of rugby union – from talented youngsters who will still make into the professional game, but more importantly for the thousands of rugby players who will enjoy the competitive experience at University and will then be the bedrock of the community game in rugby clubs all over the country when they leave. Growing the women’s game, 7 a side rugby and touch rugby are all important areas to continue to invest in, as they are naturally attractive for students, as well as those playing the traditional 15 a side game.
  • Super Rugby will go from strength to strength, and with higher profile from more televised games, standards will continue to improve. Watching a high quality University first team match is quite often more enjoyable than a premiership match.


In terms of play and rugby players themselves, what has changed the most for you in the past twenty years?

  • The intensity of the play and the physicality of it – the pace is relentless and as players have got fitter and stronger, and substitutes used later in the game, there really is no let up for 80 minutes. The ball is in play much longer, and the tackles are brutal at times. We always had big tackles in our day but they were relatively infrequent – now they are happening during every set of phases.

Who would you say influenced you most as a player?

  • I am aware that there are a huge number of people who influence you over your career, so it is hard to highlight people, but I would say apart from my parents, and especially my dad, then 2 people – Brian Ashton who was our backs coach at Bath RFC, and Ted Wood who was our coach at Durham University.

When England captain in 1996, what would you have said was your philosophy?

  • We had 5 new caps in my first game as skipper, so it was really about expressing ourselves and playing the game as we saw it. We had a tremendous five nations and were 3 points away from a Grand Slam, losing to France in the last 10 minutes of the game, and beating Ireland and Wales comprehensively away from home. The style of rugby was excellent, and one try against Ireland in particular stood out where we kept the ball for multiple phases and pretty much went the length of the field to score.

And of course…”What happens on tour stays on tour.” But any stories that may just make the cut?

  • I could tell you but that would be breaking the code – as you say, what goes on tour stays on tour…..

Thank you Phil for the interview!

Thank you to sources: ESPNScrum, Bath Rugby Heritage & RFU pages.


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