Name: Mark Cueto
Position: Winger, Full Back
Clubs: Sale Sharks
National: England (55 Caps)
- 100 points for England
- Aviva Premiership Record Try Scorer (90 Tries)
England and Sale Sharks legend, Mark Cueto, who's a coach on our Dubai Rugby Camp in March, took the time to do an interview with the E4R Team!
You hung up your boots at the end of last season – what have you been up to since, and did you find it a tough adjustment having to fill the gaps that not playing rugby created?
‘Life became very different obviously.’
I was lucky in the sense that I knew I would be retiring at the end of the season and so I had time to put things in place and make sure I had some sort of plan and platform from which to build on after I retired. Some guys certainly aren’t that lucky and are forced to retire through injury out of the blue – this obviously makes things a lot more difficult in terms of readjustment and where to go.
Since retiring, I’ve done a bit of agency work in terms of making introductions between clubs and players, as well as the odd bit of punditry. With regards to media work, I feel it makes it a little more difficult when you first retire as you still have friendships and relationships with many of the players!
You were a Sale Sharks man through and through, playing there your whole career. Do you feel more players should remain loyal to one team, or at least play in their country of birth?
It certainly depends on the individual. Of course there is the ever-existing topic of salaries and the simple fact of if you go to France you'll likely get more money. However, my view is this: if players decide to follow the higher wages in France, don’t knock them, it’s their decision. However, they know the rules when it comes to international selection. Don’t go abroad and then complain about being left out!
In terms of loyalty to one club, I guess rugby has certainly developed since when my career began. Back then, moving clubs was a rarity and people generally remained at the same club for a long stint, if not their whole career. Yet, I have to say, if my career started now it would certainly be more difficult to remain at one team for my whole career.
We’re sure you’ll agree it was a fantastic World Cup! Do you think that it will create a long lasting legacy and how important do you see the grassroots of the sport in driving the legacy forward!
It was a great world cup, and even though the home nations, or in fact the northern hemisphere, failed to make the semis, the tournament itself has certainly had a positive impact on the UK’s awareness and participation within rugby.
England’s performance was unfortunate, however I believe there will certainly be a ripple effect in terms of raising awareness of the sport and increasing its financial backing!
The youth are obviously very important in taking rugby's grassroots forward and I think the RFU do a great job in supporting rugby clubs and creating new opportunities. Even in areas like the North West of England, which is predominantly a football area, there are loads of rugby outfits! The foundations are in place – it’s just important we effectively build on them!
Going back to the beginning of your career, how did you get involved in Rugby and what was your first Club? Do you have fond memories of your grassroots days?
I grew up in Cumbria with a dad who loved the game. His team was Netherhall RUFC and so naturally that became my first team. I have extremely fond memories of my grassroots days – mainly diving in the mud in miserable conditions - i loved it. During the days where we played tournament rugby, I would sit under a rug in my dad’s car in between matches – but I couldn’t wait to get back out there!
It’s all about fun at that age and it’s great if we can get kids to quickly grow a love for the sport – I know I did!
What are you thoughts on the situation of the grassroots game within the UK and Ireland?
Ultimately, I think the unions are doing a good job in terms of supporting the amateur game. Of course, there is always more support that can be given, both of the financial sort and publicity; however I feel the game is in a good place in which to further develop in the coming years!
The game has a great platform on which to build within the UK – it’s all down to motivation and dedication.
Remaining with children’s rugby, you are going to be on of the coaches at the E4R Dubai rugby camp this March – Are you looking forward to it?
Yes! I had a fantastic trip out to the Dubai 7s before Christmas and the game was extremely popular over there!
Coaching was never something I really looked to do; however I have run a couple of children’s camps myself and really enjoyed the experience. They’re always extremely enthusiastic and great to work with.
After all the talk about the legacy and benefiting grassroots rugby, it would be a shame not to be able to pass on my knowledge and experience of the game to another generation.
The 6 Nations is just around the corner, so we have to ask, who do you fancy for the championship and do you have any young players to look out for?
If I’m honest, this tournament is wide open! Anyone could make a real impression and give a good account of themselves! I genuinely can’t call it!
In terms of players to look out for – I’ll stick with England and say I think Sale’s (have to show some allegiance) Josh Beaumant could certainly have a positive impact, as well as Wasp’s Elliot Daly in the centre! Will be interesting to see what kind of squad Eddie Jones goes for!
It’s also great to see Chris Ashton back in the mix – he’s England’s only out and out finisher and offers invaluable experience to the squad!
Thanks to Mark for taking part in the interview! Anyone joining us for our camp in Dubai this March will see Mark out there!