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Cardiff Blues and Wales playmaker Gareth Anscombe

Dive time: Gareth Anscombe scores for Cardiff Blues. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

New Zealand-born Cardiff Blue Gareth Anscombe talks coffee, cricket and chicken legs


Who are the jokers at Cardiff Blues?

Well, Dan Fish doesn’t shut up. It took me a month to understand him with his thick Cardiff accent and his lisp. I know Willis (Halaholo) and Rey (Lee-Lo) also struggled to keep up with him. He’s a bit of a character. When Fishy and Lewis Jones get going they’re like Beavis and Butt-Head.

Any practical jokes you can share?

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I got into a prank war with Tom James, which wasn’t a good idea. It started with me ‘apparently’ taking his car parking spot, which I didn’t think was his, and escalated with us going through each other’s bags. It ended with him pinching my car keys and driving my car out into the fields with no petrol. I couldn’t find it and they were pretty decent wheels. Finally, the boys told me where it was!

Prankster: Tom James engaged Gareth Anscombe in a succession of practical jokes. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

What makes you laugh online?

I like the Facebook memes, the witty one-liners you see. Most of the boys tag each other so we’re insulting each other on a daily basis.

What are your nicknames and why?

My nickname is Chicken. I was hoping when I came here I’d have flicked it but thanks to Jarrad Hoeata it travelled over from New Zealand with me!

It’s down to the size of the pins I have. I’ve been working hard in the gym to build them up but I reckon it’s all those fast-twitch fibres I have. I’m not too worried, as long as I can run around on them.

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Any funny nicknames in the Blues squad?

Macauley Cook has so many nicknames. Many we can’t mention for fear of court cases but it’s usually Spudsy. His dress sense doesn’t help – he wears some outrageous stuff. Along with the big ginger locks and beard, he’s a big target.

Do you have any phobias?

Snakes creep me out. I’ve had to do a few media shoots with them and it’s been pretty hard work. Not pleasant at all.

What annoys you?

As I’m getting older I’m becoming bothered by untidiness. Now I’ve got my own house, my partner has noticed that I’m getting a bit OCD if things aren’t tidied up in a certain way. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fly-half, I want that control. Jarrad Hoeata, who’s extremely messy, used to sit next to me in the locker room and take up three spaces. We used tape to mark out our territory.

Rain man: Jarrad Hoeata is now back playing rugby in New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Which person would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

There’s hardly anyone I really dislike but there’s this character in Game of Thrones, Joffrey. I absolutely hated him. He was such an unpleasant individual.

What’s been your most embarrassing moment?

I was captain in my last year at school and was leading the team onto the field. There was a rope for supporters, one of those awkward ones where you don’t know whether to go under or over it.

I went for the latter and fell flat on my face in front of hundreds of people and the lads – the only saving grace is that no one caught it on camera! It damaged the teenage ego, alright.

If you could have three dinner party guests, who would they be?

The late Michael Jackson, as he was a musical genius. The late Muhammad Ali, simply the GOAT (greatest of all time). And Kim Kardashian. That would be an interesting party!

Centre stage: Michael Jackson in one of his iconic stage outfits. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Do you have any hidden talents?

That’s a tough one. I suppose I was a reasonable cricketer. I made an Auckland representative side and batted around five. I had a couple of tons and my best bowling figures were 5 for 12.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

McDonald’s. I’m a big fan. Whenever I go past the drive-thru, I find it drawing me in. When I’ve had a rubbish week or I’m feeling a bit low, I’ll sneak in there.

What do you miss about New Zealand?

The standard of coffee and the independent cafés. Here you get a lot of chains and the coffee is pretty average. I’ve looked at investing in a coffee shop. Something to consider for the future.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I’m halfway through a Bachelor of Business degree. I’m doing lots of online learning. Apart from taking a stake in a business, I’d still like to keep my hand in with rugby when I retire. That’s a little way off, hopefully.

This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of Rugby World.

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