After watching the Sussex Men’s First rugby team narrowly lose to Hertforshire, Austin Healey spoke to Rupert Connell about his vision for Sussex Rugby.
Badger Sports: What made you decide to do The Big Tackle?
Austin Healey: It is a great opportunity for me to get involved in grass roots rugby. My professional rugby career came from the grass roots game and for me it’s the heart and soul of the sport.
Badger Sports: How much time have you managed to spend with the Sussex Men’s First’s so far?
Austin Healey: Today was the first time I’ve seen the team play and I’ll now spend two more weeks with them. I intend to help the team out in as many ways as possible. The cameras were here today and already the team has appeared to turn the corner, which is often the case and is actually quite sad.
Badger Sports: As Sports Editors this year we’ve tried to raise awareness for our sports teams across campus, how important are university sports teams?
Austin Healey: Any sports team wants to know that they’re valued. Sport is vital to university life and is critical for making friendships. The friendships you make at university are as important as the degrees you pick up.
Badger Sports: Do you see enough encouraging signs that Sussex First’s can beat the drop?
Austin Healey: Definitely. They lost by 70 points to this team last time, now they only lost by 3 points. They need to have belief in themselves. The key question for this team is ‘why are they lacking belief?’ Is it down to the coaching style or is it from being hammered every week. Crucially, they need a couple of wins to re-ignite the belief in themselves.
Badger Sports: Does being back on the training field make you miss playing rugby?
Austin Healey: Not really. But I do feel most confident on the rugby field; it’s my most natural environment.
Badger Sports: And finally how much stick did you receive from your old team-mates for appearing on Strictly Come Dancing?
Austin Healey: At first they were texting me and trying to wind me up. However, their opinions changed once I went further in the show. I think they were amazed at the difficulty of what I was attempting. It was great that they all became so supportive.
Healey will be taking four training sessions and will be in attendance at two matches with the Sussex Men’s First rugby team over the next two weeks. The ITV cameras will be filming much of this for a programme named The Big Tackle, which will air later this year on ITV4. Hopefully Healey can help build on the recent resurgence that the Ruby Men’s First team has enjoyed.