Looking back… David Flatman


When I got one half of the sandwich i wanted!!!

So sometime ago now i took to interview the one and only David Flatman he spoke to us about the World Cup squad and an event for that he was helping to co-ordinate for Help for Heroes.

I actually just re read this interview for the first time in a while, he was such a funny bloke and impossible not to get on with.

(He did also threaten i made him look funny or faced being hunted down!)

Tori Chipp (TC): Who were you pleased to see in England’s 45 man squad?

David Flatman (DF): Lots of them are the usual faces, but I’m really pleased to see my mate Matt Stevens back in the mix. He’s had a pretty tough time of it recently and he’s come back and played fantastic rugby, so deserves his chance. I read a few articles where people said they were surprised to see him in there, but I have no idea why. Another is Alex Corbisiero, who has just done brilliantly since he got his chance.

TC: Were there any players you were disappointed not to see make the cut?

DF: Well my mum, for one, cannot believe I’m not Captain!

A lot of people were surprised not to see Alex Goode or Owen Farrell in there, but there will always be more great players than seats on the plane. We all feel the same about Nick Abendanon. I’m not saying they’re wrong; it’s just different people’s opinion. He is just the most fabulous rugby player and he performs every week for us. We have had some seriously great players come through Bath and he has won the Player’s Player of the Year award three years running, which speaks volumes. Like any full back, the mistakes he makes are so visible, which may have affected his chances. I know that a lot of England’s opponents will be pleased not to see him there though.

TC: I’m a big fan of Matt Banahan myself.

DF:Well of course you are! You’re a girl!

TC: Well, he is a lot taller than me, standing at 5ft 2”!

DF: See that’s the thing, these tall men get the small girls most of the time. It’s not your fault, it’s just nature. I’m just waiting for that lovely lady who falls for bald six foot bouncer lookalikes. I’m just trying to find my niche market!

TC: Tell us about your sevens career?

DF: That’s happening. Ben Ryan, the England sevens coach, is hounding me. I think the corporate sevens and stuff out in the Far East is best for me, I just perform better in that heat!

TC: If you were Johnno, would you take a risk on Manu Tuilagi?

DF: People say Manu Tuilagi is a risk mainly because he punched Chris Ashton. He won’t be doing that again. In today’s game of rugby, it’s not cool to go around punching people as a ban means you can’t do what you are paid for. You’re an asset that the club has lost, you’re getting paid to do nothing; it’s not a nice feeling.

What Manu has got is a natural level of freakish size and power, combined with genuine acceleration and an unnatural level of balance which nobody has in that squad. The only reason why Johnno wouldn’t take Manu would be because at 13 your defence has to be as good, if not better, than your attack. Manu has to prove himself over the coming weeks.

TC: What do you think about the All Blacks banning social media during the Rugby World Cup?

DF: I think they’ve made a big mistake actually. They should have just asked players to use their common sense, following some obvious guidelines. All you’re doing by banning it is removing small forms of relaxation. If you want to be on twitter and mess around with your mates in downtime, do it. It’s really down to the individual and your agent/manager or coach should know you well enough to tell you if you’re really suitable for it. It’s more about self-control and self-awareness to think things over before you post. I seem to manage it perfectly well. I’m just not sure anyone cares what I have to say!

TC: Comes down to common sense then?

DF: Yes. I mean look at Graeme Swann, Jake Humphreys and Martin Bayfield, all great tweeters. But some just don’t seem to have that filter. I mean really we should all play to our strengths. I don’t do topless modelling, so maybe they shouldn’t tweet! It really doesn’t need banning though.

TC: Who do you believe will be the stand out player for England this year?

DF: I think Chris Ashton is the big name star everyone is looking forward to seeing. He’s a brilliant player. I think the two guys who will play the best for England, and get the least attention, will be Mark Cueto and Nick Easter. There was a lot written last year about Cueto not scoring, but he is one of those guys who you can look to if there’s a problem, and you know he can deal with it. He’s just bloody good. Nick Easter is probably the most valuable player in the team. He is just a magnificent 8. He is always working and makes very few mistakes. He catches the ball like a cricket ball and he’s always composed. He is so underrated, but those who play around him know it.

TC: What is the highlight of your international career?

DF: Well, it wasn’t very long! It was probably winning in Buenos Aires. And of course the South Africa tour, but that was more post-match.

TC: We all know what goes on tour stays on tour, but what is the funniest story you’ve got from international rugby, that you can tell us anyway?

DF: All I’ll say is that on the 2000 Tour to South Arica, three of us were named the Joburg three. We were accused of crimes we didn’t commit (involving a golf buggy or two), but with nobility, we owned up to the crimes we did commit (at the order of local police, men in dandruff covered blazers were ordered to pay off in cash the parents of some locals whose clothes we had commandeered for the evening). But we had a good time and Clive Woodward was very understanding as we had just won the Test that day.

TC: Nicknames are often picked up along the road. Do you have one? Who has the best nickname?

DF: I met John Eales once and he said everyone used to call him nobody, because nobody’s perfect. Then he said no one had ever called him nobody, but he knew! I’m pretty much Flats, even my parents call me that. Not sure I’m charismatic enough for a nickname.

TC: So Flats, give us a bit of background to the Road to the World Cup Dinner?

DF: It has come from my agent’s head. With Alex Payne and I hosting the event, we will be cornering both ends of the market, polished public school boy and a bit of rough.

TC: What makes this event different from other rugby charity dinners?

DF: We are going to be presenting it nude! We are receiving via video link such celebrities as John Smit, Johnny Wilkinson, Richie McCaw and Victor Matfield. One of those I’ve just made up, John Smit, the rest will actually be doing the link. They will also be nude via the video link.

TC: You’re hosting with Alex Payne. Can you tell us a little bit about your style and how you expect the evening to run?

DF: I am giving out information and pure hardcore, unadulterated facts. He is providing you with high level, relatively high brow, cultured, side splitting humour from start to finish.

TC: What are you most looking forward to about the event?

DF: Mainly that. I have also been promised steak and chips, which is what is pulling in the numbers. But really, hopefully at the end we can write out a big cheque for Help for Heroes and send it off to them. It is truly a privilege to raise even a tenner for those guys. It’s a hell of a cause that’s doing very well and you hope one day that they won’t need any more money, but it’s hard to see that ever being likely. We are very lucky to have people that fight for our freedom.

TC: And of course, The Soldiers are performing?

DF: I can’t wait. I’ll level with you, I was hoping for JLS. I also wanted Stacy Solomon. I met her a while ago. I say met her, I saw her about 50 yards away, but I felt the connection! I am very happy with The Soldiers though, it will send a very good message and it’s very fitting.

TC: Will this event match up to Miami?

DF: Actually, I just got an email which was a link to an article about an ice hockey team in Canada who had just won the cup. Their bar bill was $156,000 in four hours, we have been officially trounced! We all feel pretty humbled and we are saving up for Vegas next year. But the reports lie, I wasn’t actually there though, we were just in a pub on a corner in Brentford

TC: But really Flats, Tindall has got to give you hope? He is bald and similar to your build and he bagged a Princess!

DF: Like I always say to him, you’re just lucky you met her before I did! It could have been a different story. I could have been stroking horses all day like him.

TC: Well Flats, it’s been a pleasure and thanks so much for your time.

So that was my interview from a fair few months ago and a lot has changed. But one thing that will never change Is Flat’s banter and quick wit!

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