Rugby Union: Redman reliving the old rivalry

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NIGEL REDMAN is the greatest living expert on Bath-Leicester games and welcomes today's match-of-the day meeting.

Redman, the Bath, England and Lions lock, will maintain a long personal tradition when he trots out at Welford Road: "I first played against Leicester in 1983. It was Clive Woodward's last match in the centre for Tigers and we clumped them by 30 points.

"Since then I have missed only one or two league matches and the 1989 cup final. But I've still played against them in half-a-dozen cup ties and it must be well over a dozen league games. They've all been special and both sets of players will be pleased that the match is again first against second in the Premiership and means a lot.

"When we played both our league games last year the leaders had slipped clear of the field and neither of us won anything. Now the winners will go clear in front and that's like the old days when our match was often decisive, with the successful side going on to win the cup or league."

Redman realises, however, that both teams have evolved, especially the opponents from Welford Road who were once famous for their steamroller, pack-to-the-fore style: "I don't think that tomorrow's match will be a grind. Leicester have a more balanced approach, they don't just drive through the pack and bore us all silly. Joel Stransky has got their back division functioning."

Redman's playing career, which includes nine winning cup finals and six league titles, has undergone a revival in the last 18 months. However, there was a suggestion that he should transfer to coaching.

But he went as a late addition to Argentina with England last year, and it was there that the then manager, Jack Rowell, said to him: "The Lions have got injuries. They want you in South Africa."

"I don't believe it, Jack," said an amazed Redman.

"Neither do I," answered Rowell, also once Redman's coach at Bath.

But when he got there he was given the honour of leading the Lions midweek team to a half-century win, and he has every intention of prolonging his lengthy career.

"I don't feel off the pace compared with the young guys. I still get a buzz seeing my name on the team-sheet.

"As long as Andy Robinson, our coach, wants me to play I will. I love doing what I do in that Bath scrum. But if they ask me to coach them I will."