|Full name||Thomas Richard Croft|
|Date of birth||7 November 1985|
|Place of birth||Basingstoke, England|
|Height||1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||110 kg (17 st 5 lb)|
|School||Park House School
|Current club||Leicester Tigers|
|Sevens National teams**|
|* Professional club appearances and points
counted for domestic first grade only and
correct as of 24 January 2015.
** Representative team caps and points correct
as of 1 March 2015.
Croft's best position 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
He captained the Tigers for the first time on 3 October 2010, against Saracens.
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.
He gained his first England cap in the 2008 Six Nations win against France in Paris. 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.
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, 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. 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, though he regained his starting place from James Haskell for the Australian summer tour. 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. The second Test saw England beat Australia 20–21. 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 and the win against Australia, the latter cited by many to have been the best England performance for years. 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.
In February 2015, he made is first international appearance for over two seasons when he came off the bench against Italy and Ireland In the six nations.
- "Inside Rugby". Leicester Mercury. 10 September 2014.
- Tozer, Malcolm, ed. (2012). Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools. John Catt Educational Ltd. p. 293. ISBN 9781908095442.
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- "England 26–13 Samoa". BBC Sport. 20 November 2010.
- "Jonny Wilkinson out but Sam Warburton is captain". BBC Sport. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.