Travellers’ tales: behind the scenes with England Rugby
Any fan worth their headguard and gumshield knows this is a big year for rugby. As the anticipation grows, British Airways is thrilled to be the Official Airline Partner for England Rugby. High Life met England prop Kyle Sinckler, 30, flanker Sam Underhill, 27, and centre Henry Slade, 30, ahead of the Summer Nations Series in August to talk tournaments and travel tips
Do you have any travel essentials?
Kyle Sinckler: It has to be a neck pillow, as protecting (my neck) for the position I play is important. I also always take an extension lead as you can never have enough plugs.
Sam Underhill: That’s a pro tip, Sinck! Mine’s also a pillow for the same reason. You get great ones on British Airways flights – there’s not much you want for when you travel with them!
Henry Slade: I can’t say a pillow now, can I? I’m diabetic, so I can’t go anywhere without my injection pen. I also like to have an electric diffuser for the room. We’ve used them on previous tours.
What’s your favourite way to kill time at the airport?
SU: I like to listen to podcasts. Off Menu is good – it’s the food-based one from James Acaster and Ed Gamble. They get a lot of good guests on that.
Are you fans of airplane food?
KS: For me, the issue is never the quality of it – it’s the quantity. As long as I can get enough of it, I am a happy man.
When you’re travelling with the team, is there someone that you’d rather not sit next to on the plane?
SU: Any of the other forwards, any of the big men – we take up a lot of shoulder room!
HS: I was going to say that. Your shoulders are twice the size of any normal person. If I get to sit next to another back, then I am very lucky. That’s what you’re aiming for.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to your hotel room?
HS: I like to unpack, shower and freshen up.
KS: That’s important – you need to make it feel as homely as possible because you’re away on the road so much.
Is there anything you try to bring home from your travels?
SU: I collect fridge magnets. I started doing that a few years ago.
HS: I always get a bar of Milka chocolate. That’s a classic airport purchase.
Outside of the UK. where have you enjoyed playing rugby?
KS: I’d say my favourite place to play rugby was South Africa. It’s the ultimate test for a forward because they have a very good pack. I would put New Zealand up there as well. I’d say those two in terms of testing yourself against the best and playing in pretty hostile environments.
HS: I really enjoyed playing in Japan. For starters, the stadiums were really cool, and the people and fans were amazing, too.
When you’re travelling with the team, do you get much downtime to go out and explore?
KS: It depends what you’re there for. You tend to get more time off around games than at training camps. Table Mountain in South Africa was really special.
SU: I got to go fishing in Perth in Australia. We did a lot of fishing and not much catching.
HS: We travelled on the bullet train in Japan up to visit Mount Fuji. We managed to see quite a lot of the country as we were there for eight weeks.
How do you unwind between games?
SU: Some of the boys like to play a bit of golf.
HS: And there’s a bit of gaming that goes on – Call of Duty, things like that.
Presumably you’re sharing rooms. Do you get to choose your roommate?
KS: At tournaments we share rooms and they’re quite good at making sure you’re with guys that you know and get on with, because you don’t want to be with someone who is a snorer, or who goes to bed late if you go to bed early.
Where have been the favourite places you’ve visited on holiday?
KS: Fiji. It’s such an unbelievably beautiful country and the people were so lovely and welcoming. It was somewhere I had always wanted to go.
SU: I enjoy being around the Med – places like Sardinia and Sicily. I like the culture, the food, the weather, the scenery.
HS: I like the Greek islands – I went to Mykonos recently. And I also really enjoyed Croatia.
Finally, what’s a dream destination that you haven’t yet visited?
HS: I’ve always fancied the look of the Maldives...
SU: I’d love to go on safari.
KS: I would love to visit South America, Peru or Bolivia. My fellow England player Anthony Watson had his honeymoon in Botswana and said it was great, so that looks pretty cool. I’d maybe experience a bit of safari, too.
SU: Maybe BA will fly us all off on safari then!
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