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Mike Phillips (rugby union)

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Mike Phillips
Birth nameWilliam Michael Phillips
Date of birth (1982-08-29) 29 August 1982 (age 41)
Place of birthCarmarthen, Wales
Height191 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight101 kg (15 st 13 lb; 223 lb)
SchoolYsgol Dyffryn Taf School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Scrum-half
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Llanelli Scarlets
Cardiff Blues
Racing 92
Sale Sharks
Whitland RFC
Correct as of 26 November 2017
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2009, 2013
British & Irish Lions
Correct as of 8 September 2015

William Michael Phillips (born 29 August 1982) is a rugby union player who plays at scrum-half. On 16 March 2013, Phillips surpassed the record of 76 caps set by Dwayne Peel as the most capped scrum-half for Wales.

Tall and powerful, unusual properties in a scrum half, he has been compared to ex-Wales international Terry Holmes.[1]

Personal life[edit]

The third son of dairy farmer Trevor and teacher Morfydd, Phillips was born and raised the youngest in a family of three boys on the family farm between Bancyfelin and St Clears. He is a fluent Welsh speaker.[2] His middle brother became Welsh amateur boxing champion before fighting professionally, while his eldest brother Rob was a scrum-half with Whitland RFC, where Mike also spent his late teenage years as both a blind and open side flanker.[3]

Phillips then moved to Carmarthen RFC as a flanker, before playing at scrum-half; at 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m),[1][4]

Phillips was dating Welsh singer Amie Duffy until May 2011; it is thought that they were together for 20 months.[5]

In September 2012, Phillips was suspended by his club Bayonne for one match for what was described as unacceptable off-field behaviour.[6]

Phillips is patron of UK charity Follow Your Dreams, which works with children and young people with learning disabilities.

Club career[edit]

Phillips made his first appearance for the Scarlets at the age of 20, and remained there in spite of restrictions in first team appearances due to the performances of Dwayne Peel, until the summer of 2005.[7][8][9]

Citing his lack of first team appearances as the main reason,[8][10] in 2005 Phillips signed for the Cardiff Blues starting most matches,[9] partnering fellow former Welsh Under-21 player Nicky Robinson.

In February 2007, Phillips was linked with a move to the Ospreys, on a basic wage of £180,000 as Cardiff Blues would not break their wage structure.[8][11] Having signed for the Ospreys, at first he was the second-choice scrum-half as former All-Black Justin Marshall held the role. Following Marshall's departure to Montpellier, Phillips had the chance to make the position his own but for a knee ligament injury, allowing the emergence of new signing Jamie Nutbrown to take the role.

In June 2011, Phillips left the Ospreys and joined French club Bayonne. In October 2013, he was sacked from Bayonne for repeated misconduct, with the final incident being drunk at an analysis session following the loss to London Wasps in the Amlin Cup.[12][13]

On 2 December 2013, Phillips joined French club Racing Métro, linking up with fellow Wales internationals Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate.[14]

On 5 May 2016, Phillips made his debut in the Aviva Premiership with English club Sale Sharks.[15]

On 26 November 2017 Philips briefly came out of retirement to join the Scarlets squad as cover due to injuries at scrum half and came on as a second-half substitute in their 34–30 Pro 14 win against the Southern Kings.[16]

International career[edit]

Phillips represented Wales at Under-21 level where he played with fellow Cardiff player Nicky Robinson. In 2003, he made his Wales debut against Romania and scored a try.[17][18] Phillips toured Argentina[19] and South Africa in 2004, and also scored during the 2005 tour of the USA[20] and Canada.[21]

His performances for the Blues saw him get into the Wales squad for the 2006 Six Nations Championship, despite having a poor Autumn International where he started against New Zealand in a match that ended in a heavy defeat for Wales.

His first game came against Italy after Dwayne Peel, who had started the game at scrum-half, was injured in the seventh minute. He also started against France where he played extremely well, picking up the man of the match award. After a successful season with the Blues, he was picked for Wales's tour to Argentina where he started both tests.[22][23]

Phillips made the squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He started one match against Japan in which he scored a try and won the man of the match award. In all the other games he came off the bench. But Wales had a very disappointing tournament, being knocked out by Fiji in the pool stages.

In 2008, Wales appointed a new coach, Warren Gatland, who liked Phillips' physical presence. He played in the Welsh team against England, for the 2008 Six Nations Championship. He scored the winning try as Wales claimed a 26–19 victory – their first at Twickenham in 20 years. Phillips started the next match against Scotland, which Wales won 30–15. Phillips was then replaced by Dwayne Peel for the match against Italy; however, he came on after 42 minutes after Peel was injured again, and made a significant impact as Wales thrashed the Azzuri 47–8. Phillips then started the match against Ireland. Wales made it four from four as they beat the Irish 16–12 to claim the triple crown. Phillips also started against France, as Wales claimed their second grand slam in four years with a 29–12 hammering of Les Bleus. Phillips was one of six players nominated for player of the tournament, but his fellow Ospreys teammate, Shane Williams, won the award.

A week after the grand slam a knee ligament injury ruled him out for six months, meaning he would miss the tour of South Africa and the Autumn Internationals. But Phillips made a strong return and started all five matches in the 2009 Six Nations Championship. He was named in the team of the tournament, but Wales finished a disappointing fourth after defeats by France and Ireland.

On 21 April 2009, Phillips was named as one of 13 Welsh players for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. On 10 June 2009 he scored his first try for the Lions, contributing to their 39–3 victory against the Sharks. He also scored a try against South Africa but the Lions lost 26–21, although they came back strongly after starting the second half 26–7 down. Phillips played in the next test, but the Lions lost again 28–25 thanks to a last-gasp penalty by Morné Steyn. Phillips played in the final test as well, and was only one of five players to play in all three tests. The Lions won their first test match since 2001 with a crunching 28–9 victory. Phillips was one of the players of the tour.

On 12 March 2011, Phillips scored a controversial try against Ireland in the 2011 Six Nations Championship. When Irish fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked the ball out of play, Wales hooker Matthew Rees took a quick line-out with a different ball to the one which Sexton kicked out of play, which is against the laws of the game. Rees took the throw and Phillips held off Irish winger Tommy Bowe to score in the corner. The try was allowed to stand, and Wales won the game 19–13.

On 30 April 2013, Phillips was named in the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia squad.[24] On 1 June 2013, Phillips scored two tries in the Lions tour opening match against The Barbarians and was named man of the match.[25]

On 13 August 2015, Philips was cut from the Wales squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[26] On 8 September 2015, Philips was called into the World Cup squad to cover the injured Rhys Webb who has been ruled out.[27] However, he did not make an appearance during the World Cup and retired from international duty on 1 December 2015 with 99 caps to his name.[28]

International tries[edit]



Try Opponent Location Venue Competition Date Result
1  Romania Wrexham, Wales Racecourse Ground 2003 Rugby World Cup warm-up matches 27 August 2003 Win
2  United States Hartford, USA Rentschler Field 2005 Summer Internationals 4 June 2005 Win
3  Japan Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2007 Rugby World Cup 20 September 2007 Win
4  England Twickenham, England Twickenham 2008 Six Nations 2 February 2008 Win
5  Ireland Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2011 Six Nations 12 March 2011 Win
6 Barbarian F.C. Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2011 June rugby union tests 4 June 2011 Loss
7  Ireland Wellington, New Zealand Wellington Regional Stadium 2011 Rugby World Cup 8 October 2011 Win
8  France Auckland, New Zealand Eden Park 2011 Rugby World Cup 15 October 2011 Loss
9  Argentina Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2013 Autumn Internationals 16 November 2013 Win

British & Irish Lions[edit]

Try Opponent Location Venue Competition Date Result
1  South Africa Durban, South Africa Kings Park Stadium 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa 20 June 2009 Loss


In 2012, Welsh-speaking Phillips was the subject of a documentary on S4C, in which he stated he would never play for a Welsh club again.[30] Phillips also made a cameo appearance as himself in a 2012 episode of the UK TV comedy drama Stella.


  1. ^ a b "Phillips passes Holmes' approval". BBC Sport. 3 November 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  2. ^ "George North hopes to play for a Welsh team again in the future - BBC News School Report". 7 February 2014. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ Walsh, David (11 January 2009). "Tall order for Mike Phillips". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Blues target scrum-half Phillips". BBC News. 17 December 2004. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Duffy splits from Welsh rugby star Mike Phillips". walesonline. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Bayonne suspend Phillips". Bbc.co.uk. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Llanelli Scarlets 17 Wasps 20 | Wasps v Leicester : Wasps Fixtures, Results, Match Reports". 30 September 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Blues resigned to losing Phillips". BBC News. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Blues capture scrum-half Phillips". BBC News. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Official Website of the British & Irish Lions Rugby Tour – player profile". Lionsrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Concern at agents' fees in Wales". BBC News. 4 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Mike Phillips jouera bien à Bayonne". le10sport.com (in French). 6 June 2011.
  13. ^ "Mike Phillips profile". Itsrugby.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips joins Racing Metro". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Sale Sharks sign former Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips". BBC Sport. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Scarlets call Mike Phillips out of retirement for PRO14 double-header". Sky Sports News. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  17. ^ "Welsh Rugby Union : Shane Strikes Twice To End Wales' Losing Run". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Wales win at last". BBC News. 27 August 2003. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Phillips relishes Pichot struggle". BBC News. 10 June 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  20. ^ "USA 3–77 Wales". BBC News. 4 June 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  21. ^ "Canada 3–60 Wales". BBC News. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  22. ^ "Argentina 27–25 Wales". BBC News. 11 June 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  23. ^ "Welsh Rugby Union : Argentina clinch series". Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  24. ^ Paul Rees (30 April 2013). "Jonny Wilkinson turned down Lions chance, says Warren Gatland". London: Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  25. ^ "Lions 2013: Hong Kong conditions will boost team, says Mike Phillips". 1 June 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  26. ^ James, Steve (13 August 2015). "Rugby World Cup 2015: Phillips, Hook and Hibbard all cut from ruthless Gatland's preliminary 38 man squad". Retrieved 4 January 2020 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  27. ^ "Rhys Webb: Injured Wales scrum-half to miss Rugby World Cup". BBC. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  28. ^ "Mike Phillips: Wales scrum-half retires from international rugby". BBC. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  29. ^ "William Michael Phillips". ESPN scrum. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  30. ^ "Wales scrum half Mike Phillips reveals all in S4C interview", Daily Post, 28 January 2012 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 9 October 2015

External links[edit]