|Full name||Austin Sean Healey|
|Date of birth||26 October 1973|
|Place of birth||Wallasey, Merseyside, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||13 st 10 lbs (87 kg)|
|Rugby union career|
|Position||Scrum Half, Winger, Fly-Half, Fullback|
|Years||Club / team|
|Birkenhead Park FC Waterloo
|Professional / senior clubs|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
British & Irish Lions
Austin Sean Healey (born 26 October 1973 in Wallasey, Merseyside) is a former English rugby union player, who played as a utility back for Leicester Tigers, and has represented the England national rugby union team and the British and Irish Lions.
He has 51 England caps and 2 Lions caps. He has played for England at scrum half, fly-half, fullback and wing, and has often been used as a replacement (or substitute) because of his versatility. He is a famously competitive and "outspoken" character, gaining the nickname "The Leicester Lip".
Healey revealed on Strictly Come Dancing that he has four daughters; Ellie-Mae born 2001, Daisy in 2003, and twins, Betsy and Bibi-dee (named after his late mother), born early 2008.
Early life and education
He was educated at St Anselm's College, Birkenhead (Edmund Rice Trust) and at Leeds Polytechnic. He went to Bidston Avenue Primary School in Birkenhead.His Youth Rugby was with Birkenhead Park Fc where he returned with His Big Tackle Programme in 2009 which featured Park's Junior Colts
Austin played for England U21 in 1992 and went on to represent England A and the Barbarians '96 tour of Japan. After spells at Waterloo and Orrell Healey initially signed for Leicester as a scrum half, having played at wing and outside centre for Orrell. He made his England debut against Ireland during the 1997 Five Nations tournament, and toured with the British Lions in 1997, making two appearances.
He has played in 4 Five/Six Nations tournaments (‘98-'02) and was a key figure in the 1999 World Cup. In the 1999/00 season he was voted both Leicester Tigers' and Allied Dunbar’s Player of the Season.
Leicester coach Bob Dwyer switched him to the wing to accommodate Fijian Waisale Serevi at scrum half since Serevi's defence was not good enough for him to play wing. Healey was then selected on the wing for England.
After an injury to Tigers' South African fly-half Joel Stransky, and the unsuitability of others such as Pat Howard and Andy Goode to fill the role, Healey was switched to fly-half. In this position, however, he was unable to make much of an international impression, his sole appearance at fly-half coming in the 2000 tour to South Africa in the first test, after Jonny Wilkinson fell victim to food poisoning.
In 2001 he made the break during the Heineken Cup final that resulted in the winning try - Healey had started the match at scrum half with Andy Goode at 10, but was switched to fly-half in the closing minutes. He also scored the second and decisive try against Munster when Tigers retained the cup the following year.
His excellent form for Tigers during the 2001 season, was rewarded with a call up to England’s starting line-up during the Six Nations, and selection for the British and Irish Lions squad to tour Australia, where he put in some good performances for the mid-week team but unfortunately missed out on further caps due to injury.
However, for many people the abiding memory of this tour will be the controversy caused by his comments on Wallaby lock Justin Harrison in his column in the Guardian. The comments backfired after Harrison was selected to make his debut for the Third and deciding test of the series, and stole a crucial lineout - sealing the series victory for Australia. There was some suggestion that Healey's comments had served as motivation for the Wallabies team.
On his return from Australia he played in every game for England until he was rested for the summer 2002 tour to Argentina, showing his versatility by starting at fullback, scrum half, and wing and came on twice as a replacement.
He returned to international action appearing as a replacement in all three of the following season's autumn internationals when England recorded a series of victories over Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Healey played in many positions throughout his long career, and many often asked the question: 'would he have been more successful had he simply stuck to one position?'.[who?] His long time friend Matt Dawson often said that Healey's pass was far superior and that he counted himself lucky that Healey didn't stick to scrum half.
However, worth noting was his incredible versatility, he started for England at every position in the backs at some point apart from centre, and played all positions at club level, this earned him wide respect as one of the greatest Utility backs to have played the game in recent history.
Another bonus of his versatility was that when he played on the wing for England he was one of the first players to really work off his wing and have the confidence and work rate to pop up in all sorts of positions, keeping the opposition guessing.
Although injuries curtailed much of the 2003-04 season, Healey returned for the Tigers' European quarter final against Munster but again had to leave the pitch. He recovered well enough to be included in England's preparations for the 2003 World Cup, playing in the game against France in Marseilles, but missed the final cut when the 30-man squad was announced. He travelled to Australia halfway through the World Cup as cover at scrum half, but didn't play.
After the disappointment of the World Cup Healey returned to the Tigers and played on the wing for most of a disappointing season for the Tigers, who only scraped into the Heineken cup through a wildcard final. Austin was discarded by the England coaches, and has not played for them since the Rugby World Cup warm up match against France.
On the Lions tour to Australia in 2001 he developed a rivalry with Australian lock Justin Harrison calling him 'the plank'. When the Lions played the Australia A side Healey claimed that Harrison ran 80 yards just to bump him in the chest. Later when Australia played England at Twickenham, Harrison's mother asked Healey to sign a picture of Healey to take home. She claimed that the feud between Healey and Harrison had made Harrison more famous in Australia then his Rugby ability could.
In the 2004/05 season Healey hit form again, and with the failings of the England backline, there were calls for him to be reinstated to ignite it. England coach Andy Robinson humoured the press that there was a chance of a recall, but it never came. Instead Healey turned his attention to the 2005 Lions' tour. He was included in the long list, but not the tour party (having not played international rugby for 3 years). He wrote a column for the Guardian on the tour, which included the quote 'Have you heard the latest from the Lions' camp? Clive's sending Andy Robinson to a fancy dress party tonight. He's going as a pumpkin, they're hoping when it gets to midnight he'll turn into a real coach!'
Tigers finished top of the league. A notable performance for Healey was Away at Wasps, where he scored in the last minute to steal a draw. However, Wasps hammered Tigers in the final. In the 05/06 season, Healey was handed club vice-captaincy and regularly captained the team from scrum half and fly half during the international period. He looked back to near his best form and pressed both Harry Ellis and Andy Goode out of their respective regular slots of 9 and 10 at different times throughout the season. Leicester made the premiership final again and were beaten by Sale Sharks, Healey claims to have thrown his silver medal away in disgust at the end of the game, claiming that he didn't do 'losers medals'.
Following retirement from Leicester Tigers at the end of the 2005/6 season, Healey planned to start a new career as a banker with Credit Suisse and to also continue working as a BBC analyst. Although no longer playing full-time professional rugby, citing injuries as the main reason, Healey now plays at club level for Bishop's Stortford Rugby Football Club 1st XV. Bishop's Stortford are in the UK London Division One.
Healey competed in the sixth series of the BBC competition series Strictly Come Dancing with professional dancer Erin Boag. After Week 11, he was top with an average of 34.4/40. He was awarded the first 10 of the series by Len Goodman for his Quickstep in week 7, and was awarded two more 10s for his week 9 Tango. Bruno Tonioli gave him a 10 for his Foxtrot in week 11, and then three of the judges - Craig, Arlene and Bruno awarded him 10s for his week 11 Paso Doble, which received the first standing ovation of the series. He was eliminated in week 12 of the competition to come 4th overall after a dance-off with Lisa Snowdon (her third dance-off). He commented saying he had an amazing experience, and thanked all of the people at Strictly, Erin, and his wife. They danced their leaving dance to Dionne Warwick - "That's what friends are for".
He achieved the highest score ever for a Paso Doble, and the highest male Cha Cha and Tango scores throughout any series. His Jive in week 3 was the highest scoring Jive of the series, with a total score of 34. (In the final, he returned to perform his Jive one last time, along with other fellow Strictly 2008 competitors)..
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' score||Result|
|1||Waltz / The Rainbow Connection||7||8||9||8||32||Safe|
|3||Jive / You Can't Stop the Beat||8||8||9||9||34||Safe|
|5||Samba / Move Your Feet||8||8||8||8||32||Safe|
|6||Viennese Waltz / Send in the Clowns||8||8||9||9||34||Safe|
|7||Quickstep / S'Wonderful||8||9||10||9||36||Safe|
|8||Rumba / When You Tell Me That You Love Me||5||8||8||8||29||Safe|
|9||Tango / Libertango||9||9||10||10||38||Safe|
|10||Cha Cha Cha / It's Raining Men||8||9||9||9||35||Safe|
|11||Foxtrot / L-O-V-E||8||9||9||10||36||Safe|
|Paso Doble / Espana Cani||10||10||8||10||38|
|12||American Smooth / The Best Is Yet to Come||8||8||9||9||34||Eliminated|
|Salsa / Johnny's Mambo||8||9||10||9||36|
Throughout the series, he made guest appearances on The Paul O'Grady Show, Loose Women, BBC Breakfast, National Television Awards (where he and Erin presented the award of Most Popular Newcomer to EastEnders star Rita Simons), and regular appearances on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.
Austin joined Gary Lineker on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Christmas Special, on 23 December 2008, on ITV1, at 8pm. Together they won £50,000 for their chosen Charity; Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
Austin presented The Big Tackle on ITV in March 2009, aimed at promoting and assisting rugby clubs around the country. In January 2009, he obtained his basic coaching qualifications, in order to put him in a better position from which to advise clubs. During the filming, he returned to his roots and visited his former local club, Birkenhead Park. Some of the other teams that he coached on the series included; Bristol Barbarians, Witney Angels RFC, Rosslyn Park, and University of Sussex.
Austin competed on show one of the new series of Beat the Star in April 2009. He won 4/8 games, and ended up with 22 points overall, beating his opponent; Factory Manager, Glenn Clarke, who had 14 points overall.
Austin is the host of the ITV gameshow The Fuse, which began on 13 July 2009.
The term 'drives' coming into general use as a mildly abusive term has been credited to Healey following comments in his autobiography. On the way to a midweek game on the 2001 Lions Tour, Healey recalled this exchange with a coach driver: "I was up the front of the coach, right behind the driver. He said he hates it when people call him 'drives'. Big mistake, drives!"
- "Healey finishing in top gear". Daily Telegraph. 27 January 2006.
- Hole in the wall 2nd series - The Guardian
- Healey, Austin (2001). Lions, Tigers and Roses. Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 1-903267-02-1.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2009)|
- BBC News Austin Healey retires
- BBC News The world according to Healey
- Bishop's Stortford Observer - National hero becomes a local hero
- Telegraph.co.uk - Austin Healey in national news