Austin Healey

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Austin Healey
Full name Austin Sean Healey
Date of birth (1973-10-26) 26 October 1973 (age 41)
Place of birth Wallasey, Merseyside, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 13 st 10 lbs (87 kg)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Scrum Half, Winger, Fly-Half, Fullback
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
1990–1994
2006
Birkenhead Park FC Waterloo
Bishop’s Stortford
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1994-1996
1996-2006
Orrell
Leicester Tigers

237

(322)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1997-2003
1997, 2001
England
British & Irish Lions
51
2

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".[1]

In 2008, he took part in Strictly Come Dancing which started on 20 September. He made it to the quarter-finals, with dance partner Erin Boag.

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[edit]

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

Rugby career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Healey played for England U21 in 1992 and went on to represent England A and the Barbarians '96 tour of Japan. After spells at Waterloo[citation needed] and Orrell Healey initially signed for Leicester as a scrum half, having played at wing and outside centre for Orrell. He made his full England début against Ireland during the 1997 Five Nations tournament, and toured with the British Lions in 1997, making two appearances.

He has played in Five/Six Nations tournaments (‘98-'02) and in the 1999 World Cup. In the 1999/00 season he was voted both Leicester Tigers' and Allied Dunbar’s Player of the Season.[citation needed]

Leicester coach Bob Dwyer switched him to the wing to accommodate Fijian Waisale Serevi at scrum half. 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.[citation needed] 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.[2] He also scored the second and decisive try against Munster when Tigers retained the cup the following year.[3]

His 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 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.[4][5] 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.

2003/2004 season[edit]

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 did not 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.

2004/2005 season[edit]

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!'

2005/2006 season[edit]

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'.

Retirement[edit]

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.

Television appearances[edit]

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
Horwood Phillips Goodman Tonioli Total
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,[6] aimed at promoting and assisting rugby clubs around the country. In January 2009, he obtained his basic coaching qualifications,[7] 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.

Healey has been announced as one of the team captains for the second series of Hole in the Wall along with ex-EastEnders star Joe Swash.[8]

Austin is the host of the ITV gameshow The Fuse, which began on 13 July 2009.

He also appeared on BBC gameshow, Mastermind, on 4 Jan 2013. His specialist subject was Everton Football Club.

Autobiography[edit]

Healey's autobiography, Lions, Tigers and Roses, was published by Oxford University Press in 2001.[9]

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!"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Healey finishing in top gear". Daily Telegraph. 27 January 2006. 
  2. ^ "European glory seals Leicester treble". BBC. 19 May 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Tigers retain European Cup". BBC. 25 May 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "And for our finale ...stuffing the arrogant Aussies". The Guardian. 13 July 2001. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Cleary, Mick (6 September 2001). "British & Irish Lions: Healey `brought Lions into disrepute'". The Daily Telegrahph. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Austin Healey ditches Strictly Come Dancing kit for rugby boots - Birmingham Mail". Sundaymercury.net. 2009-01-03. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  8. ^ Hole in the wall 2nd series - The Guardian
  9. ^ Healey, Austin (2001). Lions, Tigers and Roses. Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 1-903267-02-1. 

External links[edit]