Neil Back


Neil Back
Neil Back
Full name Neil Antony Back MBE
Date of birth 16 January 1969 (1969-01-16) (age 42)
Place of birth Coventry, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 14 st 0 lb (89 kg)
School Woodlands School, Coventry
Occupation(s) Rugby union coach
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Openside flanker
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1990–2005 Leicester Tigers 130 (315)
correct as of 13 Sept 2006.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1994–2003
1997,2001,2005
England
British and Irish Lions
66
5
(83)
(5)
correct as of 13 Sept 2006.
Coaching career
Years Club / team
2008–2011
2011–
Leeds Carnegie
Rugby Lions
correct as of 4 July 2011.
Rugby union career

Neil Antony Back (born 16 January 1969) is a former international rugby union footballer for England, who also played for Leicester Tigers, and captained both England and Leicester during his career.

During his international career, he gained 66 caps for England, captaining them four times and was part of the 2003 World Cup winning side. He played as an openside flanker. He is married with two daughters.

Back and Nick Beal share the unusual distinction of being contemporary players whose names are anagrams of each other's, and they both worked for insurance company Equity & Law at the same time, too.

Contents

Biography

Neil Back celebrating the English world cup victory in 2003.

Back was born in Coventry, where he attended the Woodlands School between September 1980 and July 1985. During his time at the school, he also played football and cricket before opting for rugby union. Back learnt his trade at Barker's Butts RFC and went on to represent England at U18, U21 and 'A' level before making his full England debut against Scotland in 1994. He also played for Nottingham.

Despite impressive performances, he was not selected for England regularly on the basis that he was too small – at only 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in) and 89 kg (200 lb; 14.0 st). Back's supporters claimed that his low body position helped his tackling, mobility and ability to snaffle the ball on the ground. In fitness tests, he was reputedly one of the fittest members of the England squad, and had an enormous workrate.

His most controversial moment came in Leicester's 1996 Pilkington Cup final defeat against Bath. As the final whistle was blown, Back pushed referee Steve Lander to the ground. Back maintained that he had mistaken Lander for Bath back-row (and future England head coach) Andy Robinson. Back was given a six month ban from the game, but came back fitter and fresher than he had ever been. This led to a surprise call-up to the 1997 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, where he was a replacement in the decisive Second Test. He subsequently became an important part of Clive Woodward's England team, forming the famous Hill, Back, Dallaglio back-row unit with Richard Hill and Lawrence Dallaglio. He was also one of five Tigers players selected for the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

Back was a master of controlling the ball at the back of a rolling maul and in 1999 he was Leicester's top try scorer with 16 tries as Tigers often kicked penalties to touch for lineouts near to the opposition's try line, won the subsequent lineout and the pack drove Back over to score.

He scored in the 2001 Heineken Cup final in which Leicester beat Stade Français by 34–30, and won the lineout which led to Austin Healey's break and Leon Lloyd's winning try.

In the 2002 Heineken Cup Final he once again aroused major controversy. Tigers were leading Munster 15–9 in the final minutes of the match, and Munster had a scrum well inside the Leicester 22. With the referee distracted on the other side of the scrum, Back illegally swatted the ball from Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer's hands before the put-in and Leicester won possession and cleared the ball. The press and Munster fans were up in arms, though Munster's players sportingly conceded that gamesmanship was an integral part of the game.

He captained England when Martin Johnson was injured. He took over the captaincy of Leicester for the 2003/4 season, but Johnson was reinstated as captain after the coaching coup that saw Dean Richards sacked as coach and replaced by John Wells, and Back given a role as a defence coach.

Back was one of England's outstanding players during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, starting six of the seven games in the tournament and scoring two tries along the way. The only fixture he missed was the pool game against Uruguay.

He retired after he was dropped from the England team during the 2004 Six Nations, citing that he wanted to spend more time with his family rather than fight for his place in the side. Known for his competitive nature, he had previously vowed never to retire and was 34 at the time of the World Cup win.

However, he made himself available for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and was selected in the squad, his third Lions tour. He won his fifth Lions cap in the first test but was then left out of the side for the remaining two tests. This was his last top-flight rugby match.

Coaching career

Back had a stint as Leicester's defensive coach and also the coach of academy and reserve team forwards. His first silverware as a coach was the Guinness A-League where Leicester's reserves won in a two legged final against Harlequins reserves.

On 27 June 2008, Back signed with Leeds Carnegie to become Head Coach alongside Andy Key who became Director of Rugby. He remained at Leeds until they were relegated back to the Championship in 2011.

On 4 July 2011, it was announced that Back would become head coach at Rugby Lions in National League 3 Midlands.[1]

See also

References

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Matt Dawson
Martin Johnson
English National Rugby Union Captain
Nov 2001
Mar–Apr 2002
Succeeded by
Martin Johnson
Phil Vickery


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