Neil Back may have won everything there was to win during his 18-year career, but the newly-inducted Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame member still wishes he was playing.
The 47-year-old is now one of 41 members of the Hall of Fame after being inducted alongside Richard Hill, Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall and Hugh Vyvyan during a gala at London’s Honourable Artillery Company.
Back started his career with Nottingham, before moving to Leicester Tigers in 1990 and turning professional five years later.
He stayed at Leicester until retiring in 2005, but still wishes he could be taking the field alongside the Tigers heroes of today.
“I love the Premiership now, if I could wind back the clock I would love to be involved, the game is developing and moving on year on year,” he said.
“I started playing rugby at four years of age, so I didn’t know what it would bring me, but certainly, over my lifetime, it has meant a great deal to me.
“I often say, anyone I have played with, or against, or coached, or been coached by, you might not see them for long periods of time, but when you meet them again you catch up as if you’ve never been apart.
“That’s something very special about rugby union.”
The five new inductees 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.
Back took to the stage to receive his award alongside his 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning back-row colleague Hill, and spoke of his pride at being inducted.
“I’m very honoured and privileged to receive this award,” he added. “As a player I was very fortunate to play with some great players, and the Premiership was a big part of my pathway to represent internationally and for The British & Irish Lions.
“I was very fortunate to win every trophy I could win. On the field the World Cup was the last piece of the jigsaw, so off the field, having been inducted into the RFU Hall of Fame, this is the last piece of that jigsaw.
“It’s great to receive it alongside two of my World Cup teammates in Mike Tindall and Richard Hill.
“Being on stage with Richard, as part of that back row for England, was fantastic.”
Back was part of an all-conquering Tigers side, was deadly with the try line in sight and is currently the only forward in the all-time top ten of Premiership Rugby try scorers.
And it is those achievements with his Leicester colleagues that still burn brightest in his memory.
“As a player we won four titles back to back, in the Premiership, which was a fantastic achievement,” he concluded.
“My last game was in a Premiership final at Twickenham in 2005. Unfortunately we lost that game, alongside Johnno [Martin Johnson] who also retired that day, so I’ve had some fantastic memories, both winning and losing – most of the time winning thankfully.”