Flood: I nearly walked away from rugby
November 4, 2012
Toby Flood cuts a dejected figure as France celebrate their quarter-final triumph over England in the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images
England fly-half Toby Flood has revealed that he came close to walking away from the game in the aftermath of the infamous 2011 World Cup.
The team were knocked out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage and were making headlines off the field for their ill-discipline. England were Six Nations champions going into the tournament and had won two of their three warm-up matches and harboured hopes of making the final four of the World Cup. But instead they returned home prematurely and faced a barrage of criticism for their off-field conduct with various incidents making both the back and front pages of the press.
Flood admits it the whole episode led to him becoming disillusioned with the sport and that he contemplated calling time on his career.
"The World Cup made me question whether it was all worth it," Flood told the Mail on Sunday. "It made me ask myself if it was something I really wanted to do. I was very disillusioned. I wasn't enjoying my rugby, my form dipped and, looking back, it was pretty scary.
"All I knew was that I couldn't go through what I experienced during and after the World Cup again. I could easily have walked away from the game."
But he opted to continue turning out for the Leicester Tigers and he looks set to start for England in their first autumn Test against Fiji next Saturday. And it was seeing his rivals for the fly-half shirt excelling in the previous Six Nations that helped convince him that he should continue playing the sport.
"I sat down and spoke to a great deal of friends and peers about how I felt," Flood said. "I also spoke with my family and they all told me I should carry on. But what proved to be the catalyst was watching others play in the Six Nations in place of me.
"I'd just come back from poor form and then injury and I didn't really get a look-in during the Six Nations. My passion for the game had deserted me and I was trying to rediscover the love. For the first time since before the World Cup I felt that knot in my stomach watching the Six Nations.
"I wasn't jealous of any individuals. But I realised I missed that moment of elation, five minutes after the game is won, when you sit in the dressing room, look across at a team- mate and smile. Any player who has retired will tell you. That's what you miss more than any other part of the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles