Preparing for the Post Match party!
He’s big – six five and 17 stones plus if you want the numbers. When he puts his hand round the pint of Pride the glass disappears. But you wouldn’t expect Will Warden, Richmond Rugby lock and first XV skipper, to be slight and retiring. You want stature for that position and for that role and he doesn’t disappoint in either sense.
A footballer to the age of 16, more Schmeichel than Best, he swapped over to be with his rugby-playing mates and made his name with clubs in and around his native Gloucestershire – a county of which he is fiercely and passionately proud and for which he has been capped. “It’s about pride in where you’re from” he says. With the same mates he took a gap year and his boots to New Zealand getting games for Napier Pirates down there with the likes of All Black wing Israel Dagg.
Returning to the UK he went to Loughborough to do a degree in Physics and Management and a subsequent Masters in Sports Management. He skippered the University for two years leading to three caps for England Students, the team he captained against France Universities. Further glory in this direction went astray with a dodgy appendix but a Barbarians slot against his alma mater was some compensation.
He moved to London last year and now has a job as an Underwriting Operations Assistant which he says he much enjoys, and he aims to go up the ladder to Underwriter in due course. It’s five days a week full on though he finds the twice weekly RFC training a welcome change from the office life. He flat-shares near Tower Hill, about 20 minutes from his office at Bank, and quite a trendy area these days, though when he talks about his fashionable skinny jeans you get the feeling he’s either lying through his teeth or taking the mickey because at his size you doubt he’d get into them. There’s nothing skinny about WW.
Will joined Richmond FC because he knew a couple of people already at the Club. He was attracted by the history, the spirit and the facilities. “I’d always rather be with mates, be in a lively social group and in playing terms be in a team where we all look out for and play for each other. I have that here.” This love of a great team spirit and the comradeship to be found in a good rugby club comes through very strongly with him, and it must have been a major factor in the decision to make him skipper.
Asked to describe himself as a player he says simply “A to B”, by which he means hard, direct and uncomplicated. He has an excellent work rate, understands the game and fills the gaps as needed. It’s not the most glamorous profile but it’s exactly what any team needs from a lock. And from a skipper? – “I already had the credentials, and I got a lot of respect from the boys last year. I believe I set an example on the front line and I lead from the front. I’m happy and honoured to be given the job.”
How does he see this season? He’s frank in that he says he really doesn’t know what to expect in that he doesn’t yet know the opposition sides, and in the end the team will be judged by comparison to them, but he badly wants RFC to earn their grudging respect. He feels we have a good platform up front, exciting backs and great team cohesion and that top 6 or top half would probably be acceptable to him (and to us, too, no doubt.) But anybody making noises about SW London softies “should talk to me down a dark lane in Gloucestershire and I’ll put them straight.” He’s smiling, but not with his eyes he isn’t.
He ends our chat by saying some really positive things about players, coaches, staff and supporters. He’s obviously sincere in his appreciation of the people and the atmosphere at RFC and though he hasn’t been here that long he feels very much at home and you come away with the strong impression that our new skipper is the right man for the job.