World Cup winner passes on professional tips

THE good, the bad and the indifferent side of professional rugby.

England World Cup winner Mike Catt got all three messages across after taking a special training session held at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, on Wednesday afternoon.

Catt, capped 75 times by his country, is certainly well versed in everything rugby can throw at you.

The South African-born utility back played in three World Cup finals, but lost two of them – one of which, in 2007, saw him become a record-breaker as the oldest person ever to play in a final.

Catt said: “I have been very lucky in my career but I have certainly experienced the lows as well as the highs. I wanted to get that across to the students of St Joseph’s College, many of whom will be looking to break into the world of professional rugby.

“I enjoy getting on the field and doing coaching with the boys. I just want to reiterate what their coaches are telling them, while adding any more detail I can. It can sometimes be nice to have a different voice.”

Catt is spot on with the Ipswich school returning as a national force in schoolboy rugby in recent years, boasting numerous pupils who have already attracted Premiership scouts and England selectors alike.

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But what does it take to make the grade? Catt explains: “There are a lot of good rugby players out there, so it is all about inches. You need to have a real passion for the sport. To have a professional rugby career, you have to have a massive love for the game.”

Robyn Jones, acting director of rugby at St Joseph’s College, said: “This was a marvellous opportunity for pupils to engage and interact with a true rugby great.”

In addition to a successful international career, Catt, 40, who is both an MBE and OBE for services to rugby, enjoyed a wonderful 12-year career with Bath where he played 220 times.

He then moved to London Irish where he was named Guinness Premiership Player of the Season in 2006 before becoming the oldest player to play in a Guinness Premiership final three years later.

The visit, organised by Clydesdale Bank, also saw Catt give an inspirational talk to local companies revealing how the same motivational techniques used in high performance sport can be transferred to the business world.

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