It is one of rugby union’s gentlemanly processes that players, in most cases, see out their contracts even if a move to a new club is announced before the season is over. Nothing strange, then, in Dan Robson’s move from Gloucester to Wasps last summer, or Tom Lindsay’s switch in the opposite direction.
Robson’s desire was more regular rugby, and he has played in all Wasps’ Premiership matches so far. By contrast, Lindsay has had to be patient. Eight of his 11 appearances have come as a replacement, but he knew a move was right for him after a frank chat with Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young.
“All players was from their peers and their coaches is honesty, and that’s how Dai was with me” Lindsay said. “It wasn’t a situation driven by an agent. It was hard to leave but I felt I needed to freshen things up and get back to playing the rugby I know I can and enjoying it more. I’d like to force my way in here and that’s down to my own performances. I keep talking to the coaches about what I can do better. I’ve haven’t started in the Premiership yet, so that’s the challenge for the rest of the season.”
Lindsay and Darren Dawidiuk both have similar career profiles as they compete with Richard Hibbard for a place in the Gloucester front row. Both are 28, and when Lindsay left Wasps he had made 129 appearances. Dawidiuk’s total at Gloucester is 127, and Lindsay – who played on the wing as a teenager – knows good set piece skills are essential if he’s to make the team sheet more regularly.
“Every hooker a club signs has to have set piece dominance in scrum and line out” Lindsay added. “I could be the best ball carrier in the world but if I can’t throw straight I’m useless to the team. Both Richard and Darren are fantastic players. I talk to Darren more and it’s good to pick his brains when it comes to scrums because that’s where he’s strong. With line outs we probably throw 100 times a week either to each other or in a full drill. There’s a lot to work on. Your technique with the throw, the trigger of the call, the movement related to the call, and the lift. It’s a bit like a golf swing in that there’s a lot that can go wrong. Even now I wouldn’t say I’m a master of it.”
Lindsay is a very grounded individual who has taken the bumps in his career on the chin. He played on the wing for Middlesex at age group level and then for the Wasps Academy after being spotted by scouts Alan Powell and Rob Smith. It was Wasps forwards coach Craig Dowd who asked him to play at hooker in a trial match, and it was on that basis that he signed as a professional, going on to work with the likes of Raphael Ibanez and Rob Webber at Adams Park, although not everything was plain sailing.
“You’ll recall Wasps nearly went into administration, and that season Dai Young paid the medical bill and for the coaches to get us to games” Lindsay went on. “Wasps could have disappeared. There were doubts about being paid, Dai admitted he was looking elsewhere and he told us to do the same. It was awful at the time but we got through it and we knew if the club could get their own ground they could make money. The new owner (Derek Richardson) put the plan in place with the Ricoh and now look at them, third in the table and in the quarter finals of the Champions Cup.”
In racing terms, Gloucester are taking closer order to the top six, and Lindsay insists the top four is not out of reach either.
“We know what the challenge is, and it’s a huge opportunity with games at Worcester and London Irish to come.”
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