It was a healthy lifestyle, fun and active - so many kids are deprived of that now

7th May 2004 at 01:00
I was born in Blackburn and brought up in a village called Hurst Green, near the big boarding school, Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe. I went to the junior school there, but my first school days were at the village primary, St John's. I was only there for about 18 months and my whole day centred around break and playing in the playground.

I went to the junior prep school at Stonyhurst at seven, St Mary's Hall. I had a great time there, and some great teachers. All my sports teachers were fantastic. I remember Alan Lovegrove, Ray Carter, Jim Macdonald and Phil Mahon. I was sports mad and they took the sports teams, so they really stand out.

It was very much a sports-based school - we had teams at under seven all the way through to 13, and two or three at each age in every sport. I was lucky to be able to go to a school like that, to have playing fields everywhere. I was never worried about muggings or religious or racial tensions, or gangs.

I lived up the road from the school, so I went home and played on the village green with the local lads too. I did every sport I could - football, cricket, rugby. I was always playing something from an early age, whether it was with a hacked down golf club or whatever. It was a healthy lifestyle, fun and active - so many kids are deprived of that now.

Why was I a World Cup winner in November 2003? My upbringing allowed me to practise and play sport whenever I could. That's why I'm involved in Sport Relief - trying to give as many people as possible the opportunity I had.

Sport Relief is trying to raise money to put something into areas so kids can feel safe to play, irrespective of how poor they are, or their colour or religion.

After St Mary's I went to Sedburgh boarding school in Cumbria. They had a house system and I was in a house called Evans. I played a sport called fives because of my house tutor and Latin teacher, Dr Lawrence Catlow.

Fives is a bit like squash - you play with your hands with gloves and a hard ball. Each house had a tennis court or a football yard, and our house had a fives court. I ended up in the final of the All-England Schools Fives tournament, so I've got Lawrence Catlow to thank for that.

But rugby and cricket were my main sports. There was a guy called Angus McPhail, now headteacher at Radley school, who was my housemaster. He had been a double blue at Oxford for rugby and cricket and was a great sports teacher. He was also my economics teacher and had a big influence because I got an A in A-level economics and went on to study the subject at Durham University. He had two lads called William and Tom - my brother's called Tom, which was a coincidence.

The way he taught sport was to be very free. In cricket he believed if the ball was there to be hit, you should hit it; and in rugby, if the pass is on you, you should make the pass. That's the way I've always played too.

I've always tried to be creative and I'm sure I picked up that vibe from him.

I captained the cricket team for two years and captained Cumbria under-19s.

I also did four A-levels and loads of GCSEs, so I did work quite hard as a kid. But sport was my passion; I couldn't wait for the bell to go to get into the yard.

I suppose the older I get the fonder my memories of school become. I went to boarding school at a fairly early age and I would be lying if I said it wasn't hard to leave home so young. But I have great memories of both schools. Obviously there are bad ones too, but as you get older you filter those out. I remember scoring centuries and being unbeaten in a season, and I forget the suspensions for boozing, and the double German lessons.

Rugby player Will Greenwood, vice-captain of the England squad, was talking to Matthew Brown

See Teacher magazine for a review of the Sport Relief schools pack


1972 Born in Blackburn, Lancashire

1977 St John's primary, Hurst Green

1979 St Mary's Hall prep school, Lancashire

1985 Sedburgh school, Cumbria

1991 Studies economics at Durham University

1997 Selected for British Lions tour to South Africa; international debut for England against Australia

1999 Selected for England World Cup squad

2001 Selected for British Lions tour to Australia

2003 Regular in England Grand Slam winning side; scores five tries in World Cup campaign; plays in finals against Australia

2004 Wins 50th cap for England against Ireland in the Six National; ambassador for Sport Relief 2004 schools programme. For more information:

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