Despite winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup with England, new Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Mike Tindall insists his times at the Rec and at Kingsholm were even more rewarding than his international exploits.
The Premiership Rugby legend was honoured during a gala evening at London’s Honourable Artillery Company, alongside fellow inductees Hugh Vyvyan, Mark Cueto, Richard Hill and Neil Back.
The Yorkshireman made more than 100 appearances for both Bath Rugby and Gloucester Rugby during an 18-year career in England’s top flight, was capped 75 times by his country, and played five times for the Barbarians.
But in a career of highlights, Tindall claims it was the camaraderie in Premiership Rugby that he valued the most.
“I can honestly say I loved club rugby more than I enjoyed international rugby,” he said.
“It’s very difficult because to say because of the international group I was involved in, and the success I had off the back of it, but I loved the everyday.
“I loved being around your mates for probably ten hours a day, 12 hours a day.
“You create special friendships and special bonds. Flats [David Flatman] at Bath, Balsh [Iain Balshaw] my best mate, James Simpson-Daniel from Gloucester, you walk away with more than just a job, you walk away with lifetime friends – friends who you have to go through dark times with.
“But it’s so refreshing to know you have that support structure so that when it does come to an end, and it always does come to an end, it can be hard for people, making that transition – but that’s what sport is, it’s what it can give you.”
The five rugby legends helped raise thousands of pounds at the fourth Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame Ball for Wooden Spoon, Movember Foundation, Sport Relief and Restart Rugby, the official charity of the Rugby Players Association. The event also celebrated two decades of Premiership Rugby as it continues its 20th season.
Tindall retired from the professional game at the end of the 2013-14 season, but even with two years for the decision to have settled in he has not stopped to reflect on his achievements in the game.
The centre now works in hospitality for England games and can be both seen and heard on television and radio as he tries to break into the world of punditry and commentary.
And he thinks it will be a good few years until the enormity of what he achieved in his career will truly sink in.
“It’s always an honour to be awarded with things like the Hall of Fame, and it’s strange to put into words because I still don’t actually look back and think about my career at all,” he added.
“It is what it is, it’s the past. I knew I was part of a very special England team, but I’ve been part of a lot of special Bath and Gloucester teams and I enjoyed every minute of it.
“So to be in a situation where you can receive an award like this is fantastic, but it’s something that probably won’t dawn on me until I’m much older.
“I’m not really at that point where I think about the past and what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved.”
And if Tindall was to have any regret from his time in the game, he doesn’t have to think twice about what it would be.
“My biggest regret was not winning trophies for my club,” he concluded.
“I won the Challenge Cup in 2006 and the LV= Cup at Gloucester, I just really didn’t win many.
“For Bath my first year was when we won the Heineken Cup for the first time, we beat Brive away. I hadn’t quite broken through yet but I was watching at home at my dad’s, not out there.
“But Balsh was doing really well at the time and he was out there. I remember, as soon as they won, I got straight in the car and drove back to Bath because I knew they’d be back in the morning and I wanted to be there.
“So it’s those things that I remember the most.”