In common with my interview with Richard Wigglesworth from the England camp in the Autumn, I got a text asking if I wanted to interview Jonny May or Graham Kitchener in the run up to the Six Nations tournament. No hesitation again, and a yoga class cut short, it was a no brainer.
In preparation I did my homework on both men, discovering that Graham Kitchener who stands at 6ft 6 was on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers for 3 years before he made the decision to take rugby seriously. Having interviewed Richard I knew that having some set questions was the plan so prepared questions for both men.
I answered my phone to a lovely Irish accent, which was a surprise for someone from the RFU, but always a nice surprise, the phone was passed over to Jonny May – so, the fast man rather than the tall man!
I did confess that I’m a Saracens season ticket holder and congratulate Gloucester on their win against my team; I was at the game then watched it again when I got home, Jonny played a really great game, I’m not sure I’d noticed how good he was away from his wing before!
Before we got into my questions we spoke a little bit about Jonny’s career to date Jonny went to Hartpury College between the ages of 16 an 18. At that time he was playing rugby but not making the County team so was uncertain about his future direction. However he joined the Gloucester Academy straight from Hartpury and to a degree the rest is history.
Jonny was Gloucester Young Player of The Year for the 2011/2012 season, he played for the Saxons in January 2012, then found himself on the Senior England tour in June 2012. More about that in the questions and answers part. He was awarded his first full England cap against Argentina on the 2013 Summer tour. Then in 2014 featured in all 5 of the Six Nations games.
And now to the pre-planned questions with a few deviations –
What was your earliest rugby memory?
Jonny was very quick to answer this question – Playing rugby with Dad in the back garden! He played at a club from the age of 5 and was desperate to get there. Although throwing a rugby ball with his Dad was a happy early memory, Jonny credits his Mum with being a big factor in his early desire to play. She was a great athlete and played netball and hockey too.
Who is the one person who’s had the biggest influence on your career?
It’s clear that Jonny is a family man – His Dad has had the biggest influence – he spent his weekends running a sports mad Jonny around – football first thing, then off to athletics, most certainly rugby too. Jonny has one sister and in his words – she’s the academic one – although Jonny is close to finishing a degree he’s spent years working towards.
What is your best club rugby memory?
Having had one season in the Academy Jonny was offered a senior contract – ringing his Dad to tell him remains a favourite memory.
What is your worst rugby memory?
Injury – as Jonny’s star was rising, after his trip to South Africa, he damaged his knee and what should have been a 6 week injury took 15 weeks to heal. Having been riding high he lost a lot of confidence, 15 weeks is a very long time to consider your recovery.
How were you informed of your first England call up?
A nice story here – Stuart Lancaster rang Jonny to tell him he wasn’t to be included on the South Africa tour – interesting to know the main man makes the call either way. You’ll see a theme later when we get to his pic of players – but that caused a disappointed Jonny to train harder rather than turn away disappointed. A while later when he was at home – a house he shared with rugby playing friends he checked his phone to see 7 missed call from Stuart! He rushed up to his house mates to share his thoughts – which were of course right. There had been an injury and Jonny got his chance.
What is your best England rugby memory?
Quite simply? Scoring THAT try against the mighty All Blacks! I was totally in line with the point Jonny scored – it was certainly one of my favourite moments of the Autumn International series.
Which Gloucester player do you admire the most?
Billy Twelvetrees has been a bit of a mentor for Jonny – in his own words – Billy is composed and relaxed, he has it sussed, he trains hard but has the right balance too.
Which international player do you admire the most?
No hesitation here – Jonny Wilkinson – the ultimate rugby professional – Jonny M admires that in his namesake as well as his work ethic.
Which other sports do you watch? And which team do you support?
Jonny loves watching Match of the Day – he’s not so keen on watching a whole 90 minutes of the game, but loves watching the goals. he particularly loved watching Chelsea and Man City losing at the weekend. He keeps an eye out for Liverpool.
In a World Cup year what are your hopes for England rugby?
The squad had spoken about that very thing that afternoon – they want to be in a position to take the result out of the equation – to be able to look back and be proud of what they’ve achieved – to have no regrets and to know they’d been the best they could be.
And a final question
Can you sum up how it feels to run out for your country?
For Jonny it’s been a dream from a young age, he’s always had the belief that he’d make it – as he runs out he tries not to be too emotional, to think about everyone who’s helped him get there, his family, coaches and team mates. Most of all he’s very proud to run out for England.
We have a big Six Nations tournament ahead of us – a good deal of intent will be shown by all of the countries in the run up to the World Cup – here’s hoping we see Jonny May’s name on the score sheet more than a few times!
Get behind the scenes news from Jonny May and his England team-mates throughout the RBS 6 Nations with O2 Inside Line. First video goes live on Thursday 5th February – Search O2 Inside Line