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30 Minutes with… Tom Varndell

Point the way: Tom Varndell celebrates a try earlier this season. Photo: Action Images Rugby World

Bristol wing Tom Varndell gives us an insight into his personality

Jan 3, 2017 6:10 AM EST

Tom, who are the jokers at Bristol?

Luke Arscott and Will Cliff. Luke’s been around the block and is an old head in the team but is a big kid. He keeps the young lads on their toes. I’d put myself in that category – a big kid who doesn’t want to grow old.

What about practical jokes?

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There’s a lot of people pulling others’ pants down in the middle of them doing squats and general nudity.

Any nicknames?

Since I’ve been at Bristol it’s ‘Diesel’. They went from Varndell to Vin Diesel and then just Diesel. It’s nothing to do with what I’ve done or said. My nicknames from other clubs are rude!

What are your bugbears?

My housemates are really annoying. John Hawkins is a good lad but Will Hurrell is messy. I’m a neat freak and I like a tidy room. Will leaves pots in the sink and I’ve started moving the pots into his bedroom so when he comes home he finds them – that’s been quite effective.

If you could be any of your team-mates, who would it be?

Gavin Henson – 100%. He’s done The Bachelor and Strictly Come Dancing, and he trains when he wants – it’s a no-brainer.

Making strides: Gavin Henson makes a break in Bristol colours. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Do you have any phobias?

No, but I dislike mushy peas. I’ve disliked them since I was a child – my mum isn’t the best cook in the world.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Playing in the 2006 Premiership final against Sale (for Leicester), I got tackled and my pants got pulled down so everything came out. It was the one time I didn’t do my shorts up and I was in front of a packed crowd at Twickenham.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Donald Trump. I watched some of the American election and I can’t believe that someone can be that obnoxious. If I spent some time in a lift with him, I could see if he was that obnoxious in real life.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Definitely flying. If training got too hard I could just fly off the pitch and no one would be able to chase after me.

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?

Neither of my housemates – I’m sick of the sight of them! Probably Muhammad Ali – he was my childhood hero. Donald Trump. And Prince Harry – I think he’d be good value at dinner.

Good value: Prince Harry has a kickabout. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought?

The list is endless. When I first played for England and got my match fee, I bought a sound system that cost a fortune. It took four days to set up and I probably used it once. It’s in my attic but it’s obsolete now.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

KFC. I try to avoid eating it but after a tough game it’s a good pick-me-up.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

To have a sports nutrition and fitness company. I love that side of sport and I’d like to help people achieve their fitness goals. I’ve done a few qualifications already and now I’m the other side of 30, retirement will be sooner rather than later.

How would you like to be remembered?

I’m chasing the Premiership’s top try-scorer record, so that’s one way to be remembered (he equalled Mark Cueto’s tally of 90 in Bristol’s win over Sale on New Year’s Day). I’d also like to be thought of as someone who was exciting to watch and who always played with a smile on their face.

This article feature in the January 2017 issue of Rugby World. For the latest subscription offers, click here.

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