Tom Croft

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Tom Croft
Tom Croft 2012.jpg
Personal information
Full name Thomas Richard Croft
Date of birth (1985-11-07) 7 November 1985 (age 28)
Place of birth Basingstoke, England
Height 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Weight 105 kg (16 st 7 lb)[1]
School(s) attended Park House School
Oakham School
Club information
Position(s) Flanker, Lock
Current club Leicester Tigers
Youth clubs
Years Club
Newbury RFC
Senior clubs*
Years Club Apps (points)
2005– Leicester Tigers 111 (105)
Representative teams**
2007–
2008–
2009, 2013
England Saxons
England
Lions

360(20)
50(10)
Sevens National teams**
2006– England
* Professional club appearances and points
counted for domestic first grade only.
** Representative team caps and points correct
as of 26 October 2011.

Tom Croft (born 7 November 1985) is a rugby union player for Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership.

Background[edit]

born 7 November 1985 in Basingstoke, England, Croft went to Oakham School in Rutland where he was in the same year as England cricketer Stuart Broad.[2]

Playing style[edit]

Croft's best position[citation needed] is blindside flanker, but he can fill in at openside flanker (where he has the pace and can make tackles), and lock (where he is tall enough, and has the power to drive the scrum). He is known for his line-out agility and unusual speed for a forward. He is one of the quickest players in the Tigers squad.[3]

Croft is said to be equally comfortable in the backline, at the bottom of a ruck or jumping at three in the line. According to Dean Richards, Croft "has everything", and former All Black, Aaron Mauger, is quoted as saying he is the quickest back-row forward he has ever seen. Martin Corry believes England have never had a player blessed with Croft's abundant abilities.[4]

Club career[edit]

His senior debut for Leicester Tigers came against Gloucester in the 2005–06 season, a week after he turned 20. In the following season, which included a Premiership title and the Anglo-Welsh Cup for the Tigers, he made 16 appearances.

2008–09 could be considered Croft's breakthrough season, in which he established himself both in the club side and on the international scene. He was man-of-the-match in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Cardiff Blues, which resulted in a historic sudden death kicking competition.[5] Fortunately, the shoot-out ended before Croft's turn came up – though it was a close run thing, as either he or Harry Ellis would have followed Jordan Crane.[6] Although the Tigers fell at the final hurdle of the Heineken Cup, they won the 2008–09 Guinness Premiership. Croft played lock in both finals, as a result of injury to team-mate Louis Deacon.

The following season didn't quite match up to the previous for Croft, due in no small part to the two knee injuries he sustained, one after the other in the middle of the season. He worked his way back successfully, however, and featured in another Premiership final victory, this time at blindside flanker.[7]

He captained the Tigers for the first time on 3 October 2010, against Saracens.[8]

In more recent years, Croft has suffered two major injuries whilst on club duty. First, he suffered a vertebral fracture in his neck in an April 2012 Premiership match against Harlequins, but returned to the Tigers in January 2013. Then, in the 2013–14 Premiership opener against Worcester in September, he suffered a season-ending cruciate ligament injury.[9]

International career[edit]

Croft was called up to the England squad for the 2008 Six Nations Championship.[10][11] He had already been selected for the England Saxons and England Sevens sides.[12]

He gained his first England cap in the 2008 Six Nations win against France in Paris.[13] He was then named in Martin Johnson's squad on 1 June 2008. He gained starting places in the squad at blindside flanker for three games against the Pacific Islanders, Australia and South Africa, before being named on the bench against New Zealand. Croft was awarded man of the match when England defeated France 34 – 10 at Twickenham in the 2009 Six Nations Championship.

On 20 May 2009, he was called up to the squad by coach Ian McGeechan for the Lions 2009 tour of South Africa as a replacement for the banned Alan Quinlan.[14]

He then subsequently started the first two tests against South Africa, and came off the bench in the 3rd test. He scored two tries in the first test defeat – becoming the first Lions forward to score twice against the Springboks.

In November 2009, Croft was nominated for the IRB Player of the Year for 2009,[15] though the award went to Richie McCaw. Despite making the short-list and having started the first two games of the Autumn Internationals, Croft found himself demoted to the bench for the third test, against New Zealand.[16] Injury to Joe Worsley saw him take the field within the first five minutes, however.

Croft's second knee injury in the 2009–10 season saw him miss out on the 2010 Six Nations entirely,[17] though he regained his starting place from James Haskell for the Australian summer tour.[18] He switched to openside flanker to cover injured captain Lewis Moody halfway through the second half of the first Test, which England lost 27–17.[19] The second Test saw England beat Australia 20–21.[20] This was only the third time that England had managed to beat Australia in Australia.

He took part in the 2010 Investec Autumn Internationals, starting in both the loss to New Zealand[21] and the win against Australia, the latter cited by many to have been the best England performance for years.[22] In 2011 he was part of the England team that came within a game of a grand slam. 2012 saw Croft play in every single game of that year's Six Nations, His form continued to improve throughout the Championship and he played a starring role in the game against France which saw him score a wonderful try after a searing burst of pace. The last game against Ireland, saw him make a 50-yard burst which almost brought about a try. Croft was ruled out of the rest of Leicester's season after a neck injury. His first try for England came as a replacement for James Haskell against Samoa.[23]

In April 2013, he was selected for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RFU Official Site of the RFU, Governing Body of Rugby Union in England". web page. RFU. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Tozer, Malcolm, ed. (2012). Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools. John Catt Educational Ltd. p. 293. ISBN 9781908095442. 
  3. ^ "Six Nations player watch – Tom Croft". BBC. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  4. ^ "Crafty Croft ready for step up". BBC. 22 January 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  5. ^ Cleary, Mick (3 May 2009). "Leicester reach Heineken Cup final". London: Daily Telegraph. 
  6. ^ "I enjoyed pressure kick – Crane". BBC Sport. 3 May 2009. 
  7. ^ Foy, Chris (31 May 2010). "Tigers pounce to give Lewis Moody a victorious send off". London: Daily Mail. 
  8. ^ "Tom Croft to lead out Leicester Tigers". Leicester Tigers website. 1 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "Tom Croft ruled out for the season". ESPN Scrum. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Vainikolo named in England squad". BBC. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  11. ^ "Vainikolo – named in England squad". Sportinglife. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  12. ^ "England sevens squad is unveiled". BBC. 4 September 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "Wigglesworth handed England call". BBC. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2008. 
  14. ^ "Croft given Quinlan's Lions spot". BBC Sport. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  15. ^ "O'Driscoll leads IRB nominations". BBC Sport. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  16. ^ "Tom Croft has done nothing wrong, says England coach Martin Johnson". Leicester Mercury. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  17. ^ "Tom Croft ruled out of England opening fixtures". London: Daily Telegraph. 17 January 2010. 
  18. ^ Cleary, Mick (11 June 2010). "Australia v England: Martin Johnson's side have a chance to silence the doubters". London: Daily Telegraph. 
  19. ^ "Australia 27–17 England". BBC Sport. 12 June 2010. 
  20. ^ "Australia 20–21 England". BBC Sport. 19 June 2010. 
  21. ^ "England 16–26 New Zealand". BBC Sport. 6 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "England 35–18 Australia". BBC Sport. 13 November 2010. 
  23. ^ "England 26–13 Samoa". BBC Sport. 20 November 2010. 
  24. ^ "Jonny Wilkinson out but Sam Warburton is captain". BBC Sport. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 

External links[edit]