|Full name||Owen Joshua Lewsey|
|Date of birth||30 November 1976|
|Place of birth||Bromley, London, England|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||87 kg (13 st 10 lb)|
|School||Watford Boys Grammar School|
|Rugby union career|
Owen Joshua "Josh" Lewsey MBE (born 30 November 1976) is a world cup winning rugby union player, British and Irish Lion and British Army Officer. Specialising in Organisational Performance, he has also spent over 12 years working in the business sector, having led and consulted on various strategic change projects, most notably with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Citigroup. He was the Head of Rugby for Wales for the Welsh Rugby Union, leading the strategic and structural aspects for both the Elite and Community game on behalf of the Executive Board.
Background and early life
Lewsey was born in Bromley, London but spent most of his childhood in the rural ￼￼Hertfordshire￼￼ village of Sarratt and spent his early years at Sarratt Church of England primary school. He subsequently attended Watford Grammar School for Boys and then attended the University of Bristol on a British Army bursary, graduating in 1998, and lived in the same hall of residence as three-time Olympian sailor Iain Percy; he was able to graduate after obtaining special permission to take his final exams in Australia as he had been selected for England's 1998 "Tour of Hell" in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2009 he was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) honoris causa by the university.
Lewsey graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2001 and was commissioned as a troop commander into the Royal Artillery. However, after two years of combining the Army and a professional rugby career, he found that doing both justice became impossible, and he resigned his commission.
While at school he played for the Amersham and Chiltern Rugby Football Club. He first played for Wasps at eighteen in their Colts side, before being selected for their senior team. In that season he made his first appearance for England, in the U19s against Italy.
During his time at university, Lewsey combined his studies with playing professionally for Bristol RFC. He then rejoined London Wasps at the age of twenty one after completing his degree. He won his first full England caps in 1998 against New Zealand and then South Africa.
In the following years, he was an integral member of the hugely successful Wasps side that won 12 trophies, starting with the Tetley’s Bitter Cup in 2000. In that final, he scored the opening try against Northampton, having spent the morning at Sandhurst with his platoon on routine room inspection, block cleaning and parade drill.
After a good run of form with the national team, he scored 11 tries at the 2007 Middlesex 7s to help Wasps win their first Middlesex 7s title since 1993. He became the tournament's top try and points scorer. Lewsey won a total of 12 trophies with London Wasps including four domestic titles, two Heineken Cups and three Cup competitions.
On 5 April 2009, Lewsey announced that he would retire from Rugby at the end of the 2008/09 season. That year with Wasps he won Player of the Year, but was not selected for the 2009 British and Irish Lions team for the tour to South Africa.
Lewsey appeared for England in all three tests in the 2001 North American tour, and was an important member of the England side that won the Hong Kong Sevens in 2002. He also represented England in sevens at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, opting to play in the tournament over touring Argentina with the National team.
Lewsey made his England home debut in the Six Nations Championship in 2003 after an injury to Jason Robinson. He scored twice in a 40-5 win over Italy. He followed this with the opening try in his next game against Scotland, and was part of the Grand Slam winning side. He had a key part in the tests against New Zealand and Australia on the June 2003 Southern-hemisphere tour. By then he was first-choice Full back, Jason Robinson having moved to wing. He was a part of the 2003 World Cup winning squad, and scored five tries in the 111–13 defeat of Uruguay.
He was selected for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. He made an ideal start scoring two tries in the first five minutes against Bay of Plenty. Lewsey was widely viewed as a standout player for the Lions, despite the team’s poor results. Lewsey continued to be an integral part of the England team at the 2006 Six Nations, and this consistency meant that he became the most capped England player between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
Lewsey featured heavily in England's campaign to retain the Rugby World Cup in 2007, playing in every game en route to the final. He scored the only try against France in the 14-9 victory which put England into the last two. However, just before half-time in the same match he picked up a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the final. Despite Lewsey arguably playing some of the best rugby of his career after the tournament, that semi final was to be his last game for England.
England's coach Brian Ashton did not select Lewsey for the England squad to compete in the 2008 Six Nations squad. However, he was called up for Martin Johnson's England Squad for 2008/2009, but despite standout performances for his club, he was never selected.
On 10 December 2009 Lewsey announced his retirement from international rugby to concentrate on his club career, ending his time in the England set-up, which spanned more than 10 years and claiming 55 caps with 22 tries scored.
Post playing career
Due to his parentage Lewsey also qualified to play for Wales but chose to represent England as he had received a call-up from them first. His mother is from the Swansea Valley area while his father is half Welsh.
Lewsey was always notable for his pursuit of interests outside rugby. In 2005 he completed his Postgraduate diploma in Law. He also set up a leadership development and business consultancy, which looked to apply organisational performance lessons from sport and the military, into business.
Lewsey released his autobiography on 5 February 2009 titled One Chance: My Life and Rugby. While rugby heavily featured in his book, he also discussed more personal aspects of his life and general views on issues such as the countryside and importance of sports in communities.
In 2009 he joined PwC as a management consultant, where he led various strategic change projects for a number of clients in different industries.
In September 2011, Lewsey joined Citigroup Global Markets Ltd. as an equities sales trader. After a year in the role he undertook a review of the division’s structural trading model, and was subsequently offered the role of Head of Business Advisory Services, EMEA.
In March 2013 having spent several years outside the world of sport, he took up a six-month position as Interim CEO at the Cornish Pirates. During his time there, Lewsey pressed the need for the club to “represent its community” and “harness the power of the identity of Cornwall”.
On 30 August 2013, Lewsey was appointed Head of Rugby at the Welsh Rugby Union. After a comprehensive review, Lewsey embarked on a new strategy for the organisation of which a key initiative was support for the grassroots game, establishing School-Club Hubs to safeguard the future of rugby in Wales. By September 2014, the WRU had 43 schools participating in the scheme. By the second year, demand was so great, it had increased to 93, which equated to most secondary schools in Wales, meaning it became one of the largest national sporting programmes ever in the UK. He resigned in November 2015, citing personal reasons which would prevent him from dedicating himself to the position full-time.
As an avid climber, in 2006 Lewsey was given the summer off from international rugby and spent time climbing in the Himalayas reaching the base camp of K2. He did not inform his club of the expedition as he was sure they would object.
In 2010 Lewsey and his friend Keith Reesby were unsuccessful in their attempt to climb to the summit of Mount Everest via the difficult North Col route. Both climbers were within 500 feet of the summit when breathing apparatus failure caused them to abandon the ascent. Lewsey admitted afterwards that he had "never felt so scared" as the two climbers attempted to descend from over 8500m without supplementary oxygen.
- "Aviva Premiership Rugby - London Wasps". web page. Premier Rugby. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- "English Rugby's Fifty Cap Club - Josh Lewsey profile: England rugby full-back and wing". Daily Telegraph. 13 July 2011.
- "Josh Lewsey appointed Welsh Rugby Union's head of rugby". BBC Sport. 30 August 2013.
- "Snow stops play as PE teacher bows out after 1000 terms". Watford Observer. 18 December 2010.
- "Prominent alumni: Sports and adventure". bristol.ac.uk.
- "Honorary graduates 2009: Owen Joshua Lewsey MBE". bristol.ac.uk. 16 July 2009.
- "Bristol University awards honorary degree to former student and rugby star Josh Lewsey". Bristol Post. 17 July 2009.
- "Life support". The Observer. 23 September 2001.
- "Lewsey retires from England duty". BBC. 10 December 2008.
- "Welsh mum's England rugby dilemma". BBC. 4 February 2005.
- "Split loyalties let Josh Lewsey question England chances against Wales". The Guardian. 25 September 2015.
- "Josh Lewsey announced as new head of rugby". Welsh Rugby Union. 30 August 2013.
- "Josh Lewsey announces resignation as Wales' head of rugby". The Guardian. 11 November 2015.