WITH a medal collection that places him high on the list of rugby’s greatest achievers, Lewis Moody has few causes for regret about a career he drew to a close in March of last year.
A World Cup winner and runner-up, seven-time Premiership champion, two-time Heineken Cup and Six Nations Championship victor, not to mention the 71 England and three British & Irish Lions caps and the honour of captaining his country, there wasn’t much the 35-year-old, who lives in Bradford on Avon, didn’t do in 16 years at the top.
Within that CV were the 15 appearances in Leicester versus Bath league clashes, in which he scored two tries, but the former flanker does feel a pang of frustration that he never got to experience English club rugby’s age-old rivalry from the other side.
Joining Bath in 2010, injuries and international commitments robbed ‘Mad Dog’ of a sustained run in the blue, black and white and a crack at the club with whom he enjoyed more than a decade of sustained success.
“When you leave a club, you want to go back and see what it’s like to play them and one of the disappointments at Bath was that I never got that chance against Leicester, which was something I would have relished,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.
Moody won’t even get to see tomorrow’s renewal of hostilities at the Rec (3.15pm), a prior engagement robbing him of the chance to see the game that marks the 100th anniversary of the fixture between the two teams.
But despite the club’s differing fortunes in recent years – Leicester accumulating trophies on a yearly basis while Bath are domestically potless this century – to Moody, the match still represents a highlight in English rugby’s calendar.
“I grew up watching rugby and the ones that stood out were Leicester v Bath,’’ he added. “I always watched those games and there was such a big rivalry and it’s still the biggest game.
“When it was (England World Cup-winning captain) Martin Johnson’s 40th around the same time it was announced I was moving to Bath, I took an incredible amount of stick. It’s a special atmosphere because these two teams have been incredibly successful in the last 30 years.’’
Bath’s squad has undergone a major overhaul since Moody’s retirement and he added: “(They) are striving for bigger things and they’re still growing as a squad.
“The new coaching staff are still embedding their ideas with the players, but the top six is definitely a realistic target this season.’’
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