Mike Tindall set to call it a day as class of ’03 fade away

Rugby union correspondent

This time next week, Jonny Wilkinson may well be the only starting member of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning team still playing the game at professional level – and even his extraordinary career is in its death throes. Mike Tindall’s strong indication of imminent retirement means that the most successful of all red-rose generations is quickly disappearing into the past tense.

Tindall, currently holding down a player-coach role at Gloucester, took to social media following last weekend’s Premiership victory over London Irish at Kingsholm to suggest that this Saturday’s short trip to Worcester will be his “thank you and good night” appearance at the top level, adding: “I would love to play another year but unfortunately, that option is not there for me.”

The clear implication was that the Cherry and White management had decided against offering him any kind of playing contract, although discussions over a full-time coaching position are thought to be continuing.

Wilkinson will call it a day whenever Toulon’s season ends: possibly after the Heineken Cup final with Saracens at the Millennium Stadium on 24 May; maybe after the French Championship final the following week. The men from the Cote d’Azur have a free weekend, having finished ahead of the field in the Top 14 regular season, but to make the domestic showpiece occasion in Paris, they will first have to negotiate what is certain to be an extremely demanding tie in the last four.

Only one other member of England’s 22-man squad for the ’03 final against Australia is still a going concern as a professional player: the outside back Iain Balshaw, who entered the fray off the bench early in extra time. Balshaw has had a lengthy association with Biarritz and said recently that he would be staying for another couple of years, but the Basque club finished bottom of the Top 14 and will be playing second-grade rugby next term. It is not clear whether Balshaw, struggling with injury, intends to reconsider his plans.

Talking of plans, the England coach Stuart Lancaster should discover today whether his first-choice inside centre, Billy Twelvetrees, will be fit for the forthcoming three-Test visit to New Zealand. Twelvetrees played alongside Tindall for Gloucester last  Saturday but failed to go the distance after suffering an ankle injury.

Exeter have moved for the Tongan international hooker Elvis Taione, who will join the Devon club from the Championship club Jersey in time for the new season.

Taione, 30, has played Super 15 rugby for two Australian sides, the  Sydney-based Waratahs and the Perth-based Western Force, but he will have to perform strongly to beat the much talked-about Luke Cowan-Dickie, an England forward in the making, and the highly competitive Jack Yeandle to a first-team berth.

Class of 2003: Where are they now?

Josh Lewsey Crossed the great divide: now in Wales as the union’s head of rugby.

Jason Robinson Director of a sportswear firm after experimenting with coaching.

Mike Tindall About to move, a little reluctantly, from player-coach to full-time coach.

Will Greenwood The brains of the midfield, now a successful television analyst.

Ben Cohen An enthusiastic campaigner on social issues, with some broadcasting.

Jonny Wilkinson Playing for Toulon, but his day is almost done. Coaching career awaits.

Matt Dawson Television, radio, sports analysis, game shows, dancing, cooking…you name it.

Trevor Woodman Back in the game as Gloucester’s scrummaging coach.

Steve Thompson Lives in Dubai. Has ambassadorial role with a security services firm.

Phil Vickery Has his own leisurewear company, dabbles in coaching and broadcasting.

Martin Johnson Still keeping his head down after a failed stint as England manager.

Ben Kay Moved into rugby broadcasting, first with ESPN and then with BT Sport.

Richard Hill Working as business development consultant after losing Saracens’ mentoring role.

Neil Back His coaching career has gone quiet. Involved with business development.

Lawrence Dallaglio A familiar figure in rugby broadcasting and busy on the charity front.

Jason Leonard Involved in the construction industry and an RFU president in waiting.

Lewis Moody A portfolio of brand ambassadorships and a column in The Independent.

Mike Catt Still in big-time rugby with England as attacking skills coach.

Iain Balshaw Plays in France with relegated Biarritz.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor