Name: Rory Lamont
Position: Full Back, Winger
Clubs: Glasgow Warriors, Sale Sharks, Toulon,
National: England (55 Caps)
This week we chat to former Scotland full-back Rory Lamont. His colourful career included spells at Glasgow, Sale Sharks and Toulon, as well as winning 29 caps for Scotland. Unfortunately, injury led to him retiring prematurely, as he details below.
You retired a couple of years ago. Would you mind telling us what you are up to these days?
I am recovering from my fourth operation on my ankle, so all my energy is going into the rehab at the moment. I'm still struggling to walk properly, so I need to get my recovery sorted before I can think about the future too much.
How have you found the transition into 'normal' life? Some players find it easier than others.
It has been a year and a half since my retirement and it’s not easy, but I had been anticipating it for a while, which although doesn’t make it easier, meant I could prepare.
As I said, a lot of time and effort has been going in to getting my recovery from my operations right, so I guess I haven’t had much time to think too much about everyday life. Which is obviously a double-edged sword!
You had a good few years left in you if injury hadn’t struck. Do you find that frustrating or just see it as an occupational hazard?
It would have been nice to have a few extra years but I was kind of eagerly anticipating retirement and the reason for that is that I was mentally drained dealing with all the injuries and having to do the rehabilitation, which comes with loneliness and isolation.
When you’re injured you’re not always involved with the team! There’s a lot of work on your own and with the physios, so I think I probably wouldn’t have played too much longer even if I hadn’t been forced to stop. It was just getting too hard.
Are you still involved in rugby and do you have any aspirations within the game for the future?
Yes, to be honest I was toying with the idea of going in to conditioning coaching. I’ve got a degree in sports science and human biology and during my time in the game I always had a lot of interest in the conditioning aspect so that would be a natural path for me to go down.
However, I’m still having to wait and see how my recovery from my current injury goes because at the moment I am still struggling to walk so it’s not clear whether I’ll be physically capable of going into that field. I’m still fond of the idea of having some involvement in rugby in one way or another.
Rumour has it you had quite a unique approach to training and preparing for a match. Could you tell us about it?
Yeah it was something that used to cause me quite a bit of grief throughout my career. With my track record of injuries I had to be very careful with my body. My warm up in preparation to a match was always effectively a sprint warm up, preparing your body for sprinting. I found that often with the generic warm ups that the team would do I’d come into games at only 80% of where I needed to be and that’s probably due to my body and the injuries I’ve had.
It was always a battle to get coaches and conditioners to understand how I needed to do things.
Conditioners tend to always feel that everyone should do the same thing in the warm up, but I always thought that everyone has different bodies, different needs and mechanics and they know what they need to perform at the top.
Did you find great differences in the rugby and the leagues in each country you played in?
At Glasgow, without the pressure of relegation you were encouraged to play rugby from anywhere. A lack of relegation does have a profound effect on the way the game is played.
I went to Sale under Phillipe St Andre and we had a team full of stars like Chabal, Luke McAlister, Jason White and Mark Cueto, to name just a few.
It was a stellar team so there was a lot of pressure on the coach to have success and that was a pressurised environment which resulted in a heavy kicking game and minimising the risk, which may have been perceived as negative rugby but it was just a consequence of the pressure that was on the team and the coaches.
Then you get to France and the calibre of players out there is ridiculous. It is a highly competitive league. But it was very difficult to win away from home and clubs would sometimes have two different squads, a home and away.
You have been very vocal regarding introducing stricter protocols for head knocks. What are the developments on that front, particularly with regards to the grassroots game?
It's still very slow.
It’s fantastic that it’s a highly debated subject and the media has contributed to that. It’s something I was concerned about all throughout my career as I was knocked out 12 times and endured many more concussions.
It’s still a long way off from where it needs to be. The professional game sets standards which filter down to the grassroots game and at the moment we’re setting some very bad standards. The belief that a head injury is the same as a bruised bone is just ridiculous.
I think rugby is in a state of denial and are ignoring what the science is telling us.
From your experience in Scotland and England in particular, how effective are the links between the professional level and grassroots rugby and is there anything you would like to see done differently?
I felt very little was being done to link us to the grassroots game when I was at Sale. Contrastingly, I think the SRU are doing a good job at putting players out to clubs all around the country to try and improve the links between the professional game and the grassroots.
It was always great to pass on my knowledge. They are beginning to understand the importance of the grassroots but it’s still not something that’s been done enough.
What are you benching these day?
I still try and go to the gym as it keeps my mind fresh. So I’m managing to bench around 130Kg.
Who benches more than 130Kg? Find more Big Interviews here