Last word from Micklewood!

Written by Benedict Chanakira (bchanakira2)

Posted in :Original Content on 13 Apr 2015 at 17:35
Tagged with : , ,

Most could dub him the greatest College Rovers player of all time. Debatable ? Probably. What is undeniable is that Chris was a true rugby man, a great servant of the game and one who has managed to leave a mark in KwaZulu-Natal Rugby. On the wake of the retirement news, I caught up with Chris on his career.

Hi Chris, how are you?
Very good thanks. I am enjoying the challenges of work and life.

Describe Chris Micklewood in five words?
(chuckles)… those who know me, know that I don’t mind talking, so five words might be difficult, but will give it a go… Passionately obsessed with doing it right. ( six; but will have to do)

You spent some time in Europe, a difficult period if I may say. What was it like? Lessons learnt?
I spent about 3 years overseas playing rugby, in France at Brive and Sale Sharks, Newcastle Falcons and London Scottish in England. My first contract overseas was when I was 20 years old and it was the first time I had left home. I arrived to a very cold Manchester (Sale), I was put in a house by myself in the middle of the countryside in a small town called Knutsford, I was given the keys to the small apartment that was on top of a local pub and left on my own. I had never lived on my own before, never cooked a meal, never done my own washing, mainly because I never had to, and now I was in a new country on my own. It was a HUGE learning curve and I had to grow up quickly.
That’s what I loved about each new journey, it forces you to grow as an individual, you get to meet new people, see new places and face challenges head on.
I enjoyed the rugby overseas, but mostly the experience off the field, I made some great friends that I am still on contact with. As a young 20 year old, I could not have asked for a better “student job” while I finished my studies. While friends of mine were waitering and doing promotions to get by, I was lucky enough to earn a living, while studying and traveling the world. I am hugely grateful to rugby for that opportunity.
On a rugby front, I learnt that the small things make the different on the field and that doing your basics right go a long way in making you a better player, it wasn’t about all the flashy things I thought it was about when I was a school. There are only a few Sonny-Bill Williams and Quade Coopers in the world.

What is the highlight of your career?
Wow, that is a difficult question. Captaining Rovers to National Club Champs in 2012 was an amazing experience, especially given the team and the amount of close friends I had in the team. It was a great campaign and a tournament that we often talk about over a few beers. I have been very grateful for the opportunity to lead the club over the past 5 seasons.

Who has had the biggest influence in your career?
I have had some great coaches over the years, and each one of them has added something to my playing career. I think two people stand out over the last 10 years. Firstly Graham Mackenzie (who is currently the president of the KZNRU) was instrumental in getting me to Rovers. I played my first game for the Rovers 1st XV as a 18 year old at School for the Murray Cup final, which we won. Since then I have been involved with the club for 10 years. Graham was key in getting me back to Rovers after my time overseas in 2011.
Secondly Mike Vowles, who is a really close friend of mine, coached me while at Westville Boys’ High and then again this year in my final year of rugby at Rovers. He has been someone who I have spoken at length to about rugby ideas, future plans and have always appreciated his opinion both on and off the field.

Do you have any regrets?
No, not at all. I could have hoped to have played for the Sharks, or won certain games, but I believe that everything that has happened in your life gets you to where you are now and I am very content with my rugby career and what I achieved. I am happy with my experience, where I am in life and my future. It is not worth regretting anything, as the past is in the past.

Name your dream XV. You will only be permitted to name only players you have played with. Who makes it?

Most famous: 1. Carl Hayman 2. Steve Thompson 3. Kieran Brookes 4. James Hudson 5. Alistair Hargreaves 7. Keegan Daniel 8. Antonie Claassen /Ryan Kankowski/ Bob Skinstad 9. Micky Young 10. Andy Goode/ Jimmy Gopperth 11. Ben Cohan 12. Brad Barritt 13. Waylon Murray 14. Gcobani Bobo 15. Scott Spedding

Team I would love to play with again: 1. Brandon Squires 2. Alex Walker/Chris Kemp 3. Sne Siko / Mox the Ox 4. Nikolai Blignaut 5. Simba Bwanya 6. Koosie Haarhoff 7. Conrad Stoltz 8. Mark Els 9. Shannon Rick 10. Chris Micklewood 11. Charlie Amesbury 12. Andrew Borgen 13. Rob Vickerman 14. Gcobani Bobo 15. Chris Jordaan

Rugby has managed to give you quite a lot. Do you hope to give back to the community in some form?
I have been involved from an admin side at Rovers for a while, as well as the KZNRU. I have sat on the marking committee for 3 years and assisted with Fidelity Security’s sponsorship at the Sharks. I will continue to be involved at Rovers from a managerial point of view, specifically looking at the strategic future of the club and ways of developing the game. We started the RPI last year, which is the Rovers Players Initiative, aimed at both upskilling the players at Rovers as well as giving back to the game in general.

Now that you have retired, what next in your life?
I run my own branding and website development business called Coffee Creative Studio, so given the extra time I am sure I will plough it back into the business, which hopefully will mean getting more out of it. I am also looking forward to spending a bit more time with my wife during the week and specifically over the weekend and starting the next chapter of our lives together.

Lastly Chris, if you were to send a message out there, what would it say?
For all those youngsters chasing the rugby dream, enjoy rugby for the game that it is, and take the opportunities that come with it, but I think one thing to remember, especially as a youngster looking to build a professional rugby career, is that the game can be tough and the opportunities can be fleeting, and are very small and you need to be ready for them when they come. Prepare for the opportunity so when it comes you don’t miss it and don’t give up. I have seen how close you can be and the margins are really small.
While pursuing rugby make sure that you study and get educated, you need to have parallel lives and career goals, one on the field and one off the field.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has supported me over the last year, especially my wife Chelsea who has been with me through everything. She has been my rock. I am really looking forward to watching Rovers grow in the next couple years, there are some amazing people involved at the club who are taking it to new high. Once a Rovers, Always a Rover!

Appreciate your time Chris! All the best!
Thanks Ben!


  • Never thought I’d see the day that Andy Goode gets a mention in a dream XV. The skullet legacy lives on! Great interview!

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.04.15 21:23:05 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld vanmartin
  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : Who would have thought the Sharks would sign the guy??

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.04.15 21:40:43 by bchanakira2 Reply
  • @bchanakira2 (Comment 2) : Great read. Thanks Benedict.

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.04.15 08:09:00 by StevieS Reply
  • I remember Chris playing a few years ahead of me at Clifton Durban Preparatory. He was phenomenal!

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.04.15 08:40:51 by money Reply
  • Good interview, good guy and a hell of a lot of good advice to any aspiring hot shot 18 year old rugby player.

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.04.15 09:00:40 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @bchanakira2 (Comment 2) : To be fair though, that was not our worst signing in recent history 😀

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.04.15 09:02:07 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld vanmartin
  • I always admire former players who are prepared to admit that rugby wasn’t the single most important thing in their lives. Leading a life of balance is way more important in the long run. I wish more players would emphasize this at schools.

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.04.15 10:48:14 by The Great Couch Shark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • @vanmartin (Comment 6) : Who is your worst?

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.04.15 20:38:19 by bchanakira2 Reply

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.