The Real Mike Phillips

The Real Mike Phillips

Charting the fortunes of Mike Phillips in 2015, looking at what the rugby World Cup brought for the player as he approached the milestone of 100 international appearances.

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I'm Mike Phillips. Since 2003, I've won 94 caps


for Wales, and five for the Lions. Recently I announced I was bringing


that career to a close, after announcing my retirement


from international rugby. The last year has been


a real roller-coaster ride for me, and I have allowed the cameras


in on my life. Mike Phillips, maverick rugby star.


The winner. The hell-raiser.


The fund-raiser. The pin-up boy of Welsh rugby.


With the celebrity ex-girlfriend and late-night brawls,


he has never been far away from the back page or front-page headlines.


Make mistakes and be different. Cause a few tidal waves


and make some shocks, why not? That is what it is all about.


At the beginning of 2015, at the age of 32,


and after 90 appearances for Wales and five tests for the British and


Irish Lions, Mike Phillips's place in the Welsh side was in doubt.


What would World Cup year bring? Would the sun set on


his international future, before he reached the milestone of 100 caps?


Or would there be a new dawn in the twilight of his career?


On the field he is ultra competitive.


Nothing stands in his way. Whatever is in his way is


in his way. He will do whatever he can


to get it out of the way. If they got into his face


and wound him up, could get a reaction from him, and fair play


to Mike he delivered a reaction. Big players, big moments, big games.


Philips is consistent in that regard.


One of the all-time great scrum-halves, not only in Welsh


rugby, but rugby itself. He has been one of the pivotal


players of the Gatland era. He has brought a fire to


the position of scrum-half. He has brought so much colour


off the field as well. Some people are good looking,


some are good rugby players, and unfortunately


and frustratingly he has got both. He is very respectful, yet


the perception would be he isn't. You have to be careful


of perception, sometimes it isn't reality.


I think he is full of complexity, full of contradictions, and I think


he is full of mischief, and yet he is a very serious player in what has


been a wonderful age of Welsh rugby. In a great age,


he cut a great character. 2015 was Rugby World Cup year,


and the Six Nations Championship would therefore take


on extra significance in the battle for places in the Welsh squad.


It was a busy start to the year for Mike, with a lot of travelling


between playing for his club, Racing Metro in Paris, and training with


Wales on the outskirts of Cardiff. Since 2008, he has been a regular


starter at scrum-half for Wales. At the start of 2015,


he had 95 international appearances to his name.


To reach 100 international matches is a remarkable achievement


for any player, and Mike would dearly love to reach that goal


before the end of his career. But he would face


a battle to fulfil his dream. Rhys Webb had taken his place


as Wales' number one scrum-half, and it would be Webb who would


start the first match of the year against England, with Mike


named on the replacement's bench. He may be the most capped Welsh


scrum-half of all time, but Mike now needed to prove himself once again.


I suppose I have had this ambition to show and to prove to people that


I deserve to be where I am, and deserve to be, you know, in the


shirt, and, yes, you have that fear, I guess, always had that fear of


failure, and you always drive yourself on to prove to people,


I guess, and that you, you know you are the man for the job, and you


deserve to be where you are. With Wales and England due to face


each other later in the year in the Rugby World Cup,


there would be some added spice to the first Six Nations game of 2015.


It was always Mike's dream to play for Wales, and whenever he wears


that special red shirt, the prematch nerves and thoughts remain the same.


Drive through the streets and you see the people, with the


beers, and you think, I wouldn't mind being one of them guys out


there. You have a lot of pressure on your shoulders, you know, you are


going out there to try and, you know, play to the best of your


going out there to try and, you know, play to the best of your


ability. It is a dark Friday night


in February, and the old enemies are ready for the battle.


Could you wish for anything more as a competitor?


If you stop and think about what you are doing, sometimes


you can sort of, it can hit home. That is not a good thing.


All the pressure, everyone is watching you,


everyone wants you to win. You have to be so focussed


and deliver that to the best of your ability.


And it is intense. You have got to be on your A game.


Faletau comes away. Haskell.


Rhys Webb. Oh, what a start for Wales.


Things start well for Wales and for Rhys Webb, but then...


Watson follows through. It must be a try for England.


Good feet by Joseph, excellent hands and feet.


And score by Jonathan Joseph. Oh my, swing low in Cardiff.


After 68 minutes Mike replaces Webb. It is cap number 96, but Wales


are losing by 16 points to 18. There is tension,


and the white hot fear of failure. Wales 16, England 21.


The game is over, and it is a famous victory for


England at the Millennium Stadium, in World Cup year.


William Michael Phillips was born on the 29th August 1982. He was the


youngest of three sons for Trevor Phillips, a farmer, and his school


teacher wife Morfydd. The two older boys were protective of Michael,


because he was seven years younger than them. I think as they have


grown up, they have always been a bit protective of him and keeping an


eye on him then. Kicked a lot of the ball about 6789 broke a lot of


windows. Did they get on? They always got on, yes. They always


liked their sport but they were willing to help on the farm. Kids


were always fighting. Michael was younger so he always had a bit of a


tough time, I suppose with us two, seeing Rob played for Whitland and


he was very fiscal. I was boxing, so so that was physical, so I suppose


he was brought up to be tough. They would try and wind me up and all


this, and it was never obviously strong enough to handle myself then,


but I think having two older brothers and that up bringing helped


me a lot for the rugby shield for sure.


One day I found a piece of paper, that he had written things that he


wanted to do, and I was quite taken back, you know. I will play for


Wales more than 50 times. I will be a great player. I remember seeing


him playing for Whitland Youth at scrum-half. And scoring a try, just


before scoring the try, he turned to run backwards, at the chap that was


chasing him. Flipped back over and scored, and the referee penalised


him for ungentlemanly behave yes yes the rugby field. That was probably


fair enough. Xxxx behaviour.


Mike was beginning to make a name for himself in West Wales rugby


circles and it wasn't long until his beloved Scarlets came calling The


first impression was his stature, remarkable saw the churks really. To


think he was playing scrum-half, made you ask the question, but when


you seen him playing he was a natural scrum-half, in all senses of


the word. It was pretty obvious that this boy had a top class rugby


feature in front of him. Wearing number 20, Mike Phillips. His debut


for the Scarlets came in 2002, against carefully and he maded an


instant impression, although because of his height some questioned his


suitability for the position of scrum-half. His character was


ideally placed for me as a scrum-half, because he was, he was


different in many ways, he had physicality intensity, Mike never


played a game he didn't believe we were going to win. I mean from the


beginning he wasn't the usual mould of a scrum-half, and you know, his


critics said he was too big, too slow, taking steps, so it made him


more determined then, to achieve in that position, I think. I love


playing nine. You have the ball all the time, you could influence the


game, you could get stuck in in defence as well. It was no way in


which I was going to change position, really. Probably one of


the worst players I have played against. Always very vocal.


Aggressive, he is a big man, he is about two foot taller than me, that


was scary. And when you played against him you hated his guts.


After he was your mate again, like, almost schizophrenic like. I


suspected that when you portray yourself, as such an imposing


figure, youle always suspect that it disguises an inner insecurity, if


you are shy, and you are playing in perhaps the most prominent position


on the field, you have to compensate. And so you have to


become larger than life. I think it was clear from the outset that what


Mike Phillips was on the rugby field, wasn't the entire picture,


and so there are hidden aspects, greater levels of tears to Mike


Phillips, which of course makes him simply more interesting.


Xxxx tiers. In 2003, aged 21 Mike won his first cap for Wales in the


match against Romania. And scored.


Phillips. Dummies and goes and Mike Phillips gets over the try line. He


is big and strong and wants to make his mark. Mike had a rival at both


club and country. Dwayne Peel was the first choice scrum-half for


Wales and the Scarlets. If he was to continue his development, Mike would


have to leave. If Mike was going to compete for Wales, for international


rugby honours it has to be in a different club and we were very well


aware of that, and it was with our blessing that eventually Mike made


the decision, really, to leave here, to go to Cardiff. What are your


thoughts as you leave the Scarlets and join up with the Blues? It is


emotional. Coming from West Wales, you know, I have supported the


Scarlets and it is one of these things I have to move on and do. All


my mates are playing here and it is a hard thing to do. I have to look


forward to it now, and looking on to next season.


Mike's move to the capital city was regarded as a big headline signing.


At the Cardiff Blues, he was the undisputed number one. And he loved


it. Mike Phillips, the bounce, he is over. Against his old club, he is


delighted. We were convinced he would add


significantly to our group, and so it proved really. It was a great


acquisition for us at the right time. Great to wear the jersey, the


likes of Gareth Edwards and Terry Holmes have worn before you. As the


game has changed we have posed a physical threat. As the games


change, probably Mike's physique has helped him by the competitor that he


is. Like the great Terry Holmes, Mike's


size was certainly an advantage in the physical side of the game. That


was something that Mike relished. He liked mixing it up, and there was


no room for friendship's on the rugby field. It was all about one


thing. Winning. He is multi tiered. He is Holt


tempered. He is a handful. Good. We should embrace him for being like


that. I was getting married in 2005. The Ospreys were playing the Blues,


two days before my wedding. Long kick off. I saw Mike catch it.


Thought I would get the first tackle in. Might not get another one all


game. Put him on the floor. As I did, he decides to hit me in the eye


and he says, have that for your wedding photo. We are good friends.


A bit fiery, yes. He is a character of a player. But the temper on him,


he has probably mellowed a bit now that the years have gone by.


Michael, you, thank you. He wasn't too bad to referee, to be


honest. You know, he chipped away sometimes and have a go at you and


get a bit frustrated, as most He knew when to stop the


chirping with me. I'd tell him, you know, that's enough now. But you let


him chirp and he'd chirp away. I probably played some of my best


stuff for Dai in those two years, it was just a great


relationship. You never wanted to let him down and he got the best out


of me as well. Wales's second match in this year's


Six Nations was against Scotland in Edinburgh.


Following the disappointing loss to England, Warren Gatland's squad


needed to win if they were to remain in the race for the title. Rhys Webb


would start at scrum-half, with Mike on the bench once again.


Rhys Webb has it and Rhys Webb will score.


It's a good performance by Wales, and by Webb. Mike comes on late in


the game for cap number 97 and Wales secure a vital win.


It is victory for Wales and it gets them back on.


It's a win away from home and it's a good win, it's another win against


Scotland. The Welsh public idolise


their rugby heroes. Mike has always been a big favourite with the fans,


especially the females. His school visits are not always just for the


benefit of the pupils. Lots of staff


this morning, we were supposed to have done first aid training, we


have rearranged it the next week especially to see Mike Phillips.


Lots of our friends go to the internationals especially to see


Mike. We were so excited to see him coming on a few weeks ago against


England, all text in each other, sending photos. He is our Mr Gray.


Definitely. Yes, like the lead


character of the raunchy novel 50 Shades of Grey, Mike has many female


admirers and many girlfriends have come and gone.


There's been a lot of ladies, hasn't there? I don't want


to say. He's brought a number of


stunning girls down with him for us to meet and get to know quite well.


And long may that continue. Mike's most publicised relationship


was with Duffy, the Welsh born


award-winning pop star. This was stardom


on a different level. Catapulted into daily tabloid


interest and A-list celebrity status. First, there was Gavin


Henson and Charlotte Church. Now there was Phillips and Duffy.


We had a house together in Chippenham and


looking back, it was pretty crazy. I was travelling, I was spending a few


days up in London and travelling two hours to get to training every day.


He asked me out on a date, actually. And I had never been on a date


before. So I went and I was so nervous. I don't do dates. No, I'm


too scared that I would say the wrong thing or embarrass myself and,


just, yeah, I just went one night and, yeah, kind of fell in love, I


guess. So it is the big L, then, love?


Yeah, I guess so, yeah. We were asked to go to different


places and things and it wasn't about that,


it was just, you know, to people who and things and it wasn't about that,


it was just, you know, two people who were very fond of each other


and we hardly left the house, you know, to


be honest. It wasn't about being seen, or things like that, which


perhaps some people might think. It was for just about two people being


very fond of each other and enjoying each other's company, really. Yeah,


he softened me again, you know? I got a little bit hard around the


edges, you know, having to survive the big wide world. So it is nice to


have someone to put his arm around me, I guess.


Seeing her life and seeing it unfold and the things that


she had to put up with, the falseness of certain people around


her, that is on a different scale altogether, what she was doing,


unbelievable career with her and stuff. So I guess people are there


to knock you down, and the media and things, and you are aware of it and


you have just got to try and avoid it.


Mike said, look, I've got to take you down to the rugby club.


Before she came in through the door, I warned her, look, you are quite


likely now to meet one bloke who is the local idiot. And sure enough,


this guy came over to Duffy, he says, "Are you going out with


this..." I will say "clown" for the want of a better word. And she


turned around to him and said, "You must be the village idiot I was


warned about." The pressure of their


lifestyles and careers became too much and the relationship came to an


end after months. -- 18 months. You know, I was


very fond of her and unfortunately, things didn't quite pan out. And,


yeah, again, a big disappointment. I think the two lives, the careers we


had, I think it'll got a bit too much and things, but, yeah amazing


girl and, you know, she's... She's a top girl.


Following the win in Scotland, Wales' next match in this


year's Six Nations would be in the Stade de France in Paris. Mike was


once again on the bench. If he got on, it would be cap 98.


Rhys Webb is on top form once again, and


plays a prominent role. Webb looking


to make his way through. Chance the Webb looking


to make his way through. Chance for Wales. And surely a try for Wales


for Dan Biggar! That is a very, very hard earned victory. International


rugby is all about winning. It's mixed feelings for Mike.


A Welsh win, but he didn't get on. It is the


first time that a fully fit Mike Phillips has not played any part of


a Six Nations match during Warren Gatland's seven year reign as coach


of Wales. The post-match warm down


can be a lonely place when questions are looming about your future as an


international player. Yeah, it is very, very difficult,


I think. Perhaps something that, you know, to


be honest, over the last... Since Gats has come in, really, I haven't


had to deal with too often, really, to be honest. So it is a different


sort of look on it. It is hard, you know?


Warren Gatland was appointed Welsh coach in November 2007, at a


time when Wales needed to rebuild. I think the moment Warren Gatland


arrived and started putting Wales back into shape, I think he was


looking for a certain dog, a certain mongrel attitude which Mike Phillips


has, you know? Right, who is going to put their hand up to get


stuck in? Mike Phillips would have been one of the first to volunteer.


Gatland's first match in charge was the 2008 Six Nations opener


against England at Twickenham. Mike was picked at scrum-half, but for


Wales, things could not have started any worse.


Vainikolo. Great off-load by Lesley Vainikolo


for Toby Phillips. And England are ruling at Twickenham.


-- for Toby Flood. And England are ruling at Twickenham.


Oh, we were on the pitch, thinking, here we go again, you


know? We were under the cosh for the whole of the first half. You know,


they gave us a stern talking to at half-time.


What exactly was said in the dressing room? Get the ball to


Phillips. No. Second half, we just turned it around, you know? The boys


stepped it up. Hook gets away. James


Cook. It all happening. Lee Byrne. And the conversion could bring the


scores level. I remember the body


language then of the English boys was a bit flat and you just sort of


felt, we have got them here. Iain Balshaw. Charged down by


Phillips. Oh, it is off for Wales. Good pick-up by Jenkins. Martyn


Williams. Back to Phillips. England, what have you done? And Wales, what


are you doing? An unbelievable


feeling to score. It was pretty surreal. And I was just thinking,


how many people are going to be watching and how many people will be


jumping up and down as well, which is great. I did feel like time was


standing still. Wales have won! What


a start for Warren Gatland. I think you can look at that


comeback, that rise in that one game and go, that's


where it began. This was but the


start of a whole era of Welsh success.


It kicked off a very special Six Nations campaign for


Wales. Subsequent wins against Scotland and Italy meant that they


were two wins away from a Grand Slam. Next up was Ireland. There was


a fierce rivalry brewing between Mike and the great Irish


outside-half Ronan O'Gara. Ireland-Wales has always been


obviously a humdinger of a game, but it is always against Mike and I am


playing ten, and Mike is playing nine and Mike wants to kill me and I


want to put him off his game. In the warm up,


the people are coming into the stadium. I mean, if you notice,


they are going hammer and tongs on the pitch


in the warm up, even before we have crossed paths. I mean, there is


sledging but at the top level, you need sledging because there is tiny


margins involved and whatever way you can get an advantage, and Mike


knew how to get an advantage. I mean, it


was horrendous the things you said but when it is over, it is over and


you would be in the shower laughing, saying, oh my God, did I


say that the Mike? What did he say to me? I can't really say what I


said, but he started it, so... The Triple Crown decider would be at


Croke Park, Dublin. Wales were trailing 6-3 when a touch of red


mist descended on Mike. This man has dropped his knee onto his back,


touch judge report - recommendation yellow card. And he goes to the bin.


I just thought, I'm never going to get on again, I'm not going to get


on. Here we go, people are going to hate me. I just thought it was going


to be like David Beckham, you know? Following his ten minutes in the


sin-bin, Mike was desperate to make amends and Wales slowly started to


turn things around. Stephen Jones.


Now then, some width. Shane Williams.


Always a bolt of excitement. Williams has scored.


That try sealed the Triple Crown for Wales, much to


Mike's relief. And Wales are a step away,


a win away, from another Grand Slam.


Now it was only France who stood between Wales, Mike and the


Grand Slam. James Hook starts the


Grand Slam showdown at the Millennium Stadium.


A bit of a scrappy game, a lot of defence and


the key moment, Shane delivered again. It's a foot race and Shane


Williams is going to get it. It is going to be Martyn Williams!


It is! Martyn Williams! And Wales are back in Grand Slam rugby mode.


Final whistle goes, you are just exhausted, you can barely


stand up and it is just relief and a massive weight of pressure off your


shoulders and you know you can relax and enjoy it a bit now and savour


the moment. 2008 would be Mike's


first Grand Slam. Another would follow in 2012.


Mike's longest period with the Welsh region was


with the Ospreys. He moved there from the Cardiff Blues and became


one of Wales' highest-paid players. The region had huge ambition for


domestic and European honours. To fulfil that dream, they had


assembled a team of so-called Galactictos, or star players, and


Mike Phillips was one of the biggest stars of all.


It is no different to an actor going on stage. You move on


there, you become somebody else and Mike became this champion, this


winner. This aggressive animal at nine who wanted to... If he couldn't


score a try, he wanted to beat you up and then he wanted to go out with


your girlfriend straight after it. You know, you respect that in


champions and elite players. If you are scrum-half, you've got


your immediate one-on-one with your


opposite number. Mike Phillips. Take that challenge.


As scrum-half, you've also got yourself against the


opposing back row. I fancy that. Two, he would have said. Mike


Phillips against one to 15, yeah, bring it on. The Ospreys dressing


room was full of Welsh rugby's most colourful characters. Their


headlines were as prominent on the front pages as they were on the


back. Coaching the rugby was the


easiest part of it all. It was the off-field incidents with players,


young guys who all of a sudden have got the world at their feet and they


are behaving like any other person of that age.


Certainly interesting turning up to training


on a Monday morning. There was a fair few stories flying about. Yeah,


a lot of boys keeping their heads down.


Captured on camera, Mike Phillips pinned to the pavement,


restrained by police after an alleged altercation outside a


fast-food restaurant in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The player


is handcuffed and led away by police, but was later released. It


was following his split from Duffy in 2011 that Mike was involved in


the late-night scuffle outside McDonald's in Cardiff City centre.


It wasn't the first time that he'd made front-page headlines.


Being Mike Phillips means that he is constantly in the glare of public


scrutiny and the goldfish bowl of Welsh rugby stardom.


I made poor decision, I think, but I think everybody has in all walks of


life. Nobody is perfect. I have seen people trying to pull his strings


really, and it is difficult, sometimes, when Mike is only trying


to have a night out. I have only been out with him once or twice,


after the tenth person came up and told him that things didn't go all


that well today, well, you know it was wearing thin on me. You could


have a bad game on the weekend. I have had one and someone doesn't


mind telling me to my face I am rubbish on the Sunday. A lot of


people don't understand that professional rugby, especially


playing number nine is a position of deep importance, deep


responsibility, but you need to release that, and of course, he


might not have release it in the right way at times but we all make


mistakes. It is unfortunate he has been tracked by a fairly aggressive


tabloid interest. I suspect it says something about the growing


popularity of rugby, that it attracts that red top interest, more


than it does about Mike Phillips being a trouble maker.


You know incidents have happened which he has regretted, you know,


and some things get blown out of proportion but we have shared some


words with him, and you know, tried to sort them out. He is welcome here


at all times. Sometimes it is a good bolthole for him one when his ex


paid have made the headlines. He knows he will be protected.


Following his front-page headline, Mike was eager to create some back


page news at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I was so determined after that,


to prove people wrong and go to the World Cup and show everybody what I


was about, and you know, what type of person I really am.


Wales had high hopes in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. In


the quarterfinal they faced Ireland and it was Mike who scored the


decisive try. I thought we were going to go to a semifinal and they


would beat us but it was Mike's try that was the turning point. Big


players, big moments. Big games. There would be no bigger than the


semifinal against France but it would be a match that would be


remembered for one incident. The sending off of Sam Warburton. I


couldn't believe it. He just put a big tackle in, really. That is the


way I seen it. It is like, this is just not our day. He is someone who


will be determined. He will never throw the towel in, fight for the


full 80 minute, that shows his character. 14 man Wales battled on


with Mike leading the charge. His try brought Wales to within a point


of the French, and with only seconds remaining, Wales were awarded a


penalty. And up stepped Leigh Halfpenny. He was devastated. To get


so close to a final of the Rugby World Cup, and to miss out by inches


really, it's, it was tough to take. Wales had given their all, and had


come to within inches of the Rugby World Cup final. One aspect of his


life that goes largely unnoticed is his work with various charities.


I am Mike Phillips I am a proud ambassador for Breast Cancer Care


recovery. He is a patron of the Follow Your Dreams organisation that


provides opportunities for children and young people to fulfil their


potential and dreams. Sheezs every opportunity to catch up with some of


his friends in the charity. Today we are off to have lunch with an


ambassador for Follow Your Dreams, a young girl, Amy, Amy has had an


operation last week, and catching up with her, and seeing how she is


really. After that, on to the school. One of the young boys, Luke,


he is 18 soon, so it will be nice to catch up with him and say happy


birthday to him. It is going to be a good day.


Hiya. All right? You OK? Yes. You all right? Yes. Who is this? Mike.


First time I met her, must will have been nearly eight to ten years ago,


when she was in hospital, and yes, she is just a star, you know, she's


a character, and you know, great personality again, and she is so


bubbly and happy she has been through such, such an ordeal. So


many operations and time in hospital, and you know, you feel for


her. How long were you in hospital for? A couple of days. A couple of


days? Yes. Was the teddy bear with you? Yes. Did he have any teeth out?


No! O There is a beautiful picture of him hugging a little girl, which


has been right through social media, and I think it is on the side of


lorries to promote the charity, and it is a really natural genuine


picture, and I think if anybody, you know, would doubt he has a soft


side, that he is just spiky Mikey, this animal on the pitch, whatever,


you see that and you realise there is more depth to him than that.


Hello. You all right? You OK? Luke, every time you meet him, you have


great conversations, he has a great personality, great sense of humour.


You have about a hundred of these. He is selling them on eBay? I am


joking! He is just a normal guy. Even though he plays rugby. When he


is off the pitch, she is just one of us, like. Xxxx he is just one of us,


like. One of us, one of us guys. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.


I tweeted him to say have a good Christmas. A couple of days before


that, my dad got, a present off Mike. It was a game voucher to spend


in Game. I thought that was nice of him, to take his own time, to buy


someone a Christmas present. He is just a really nice guy in general.


The 2015 Six Nations would turn into quite a battle. Wales' fourth game


in Championship would be against Ireland in Cardiff. The Irish were


on course for the Grand Slam, with Wales had ambitions of their own and


had the possibility of winning the Championship. Mike was on the bench


but his am peerns is his 98 international match. Wales won the


game, the Championship dream was still on.


Over the years, Mike has been at the forefront of Wales' battles against


the Irish. Following the Welsh defeat to Ireland in 2014, Mike was


involved in a spat on Twitter with a very famous Irish supporter. Niall


Horan from One Direction. I first met Mike on Twitter, with a row we


had. During an Irish Wales game he threw his toys out of the programme


and had a row with rob Kearney. Niall posted Mike Phillips is like a


child throwing his toys out of the pram.


To which Mike replied. I think people saw the funny side of it,


thank God, and, which is my humour really. At the time the two of them


were playing in France together. Jonny said, Mike is in New York, he


wants to meet up with you. And I was like, yes, here we go. So, met up


with Mike, in a bar in New York, we had a pint together. We had a bit of


banter. Good laugh. He was getting, you know, he was hundreds of girls


outside every pub we went to, he had to leave through the back doors of


these places, and you know, he was massive there, so it was like me in


St Claires. He is a good laugh. He is not as good as he thinks he is.


He thinks that he is the best player ever, he, he was recently telling me


a story about how when Dan Carter signed for Racing Metro, he actually


DMed him on Twitter saying hi Dan it is Mike from two of, from the


greatest nine to the greatest ten in the world. Just welcoming you to the


club. That proves and shows how cocky Mike Phillips is. When you


know him well, there is a lot of humour there. Everything he says,


you know, people deem it arrogance, but I don't think it is. It is Mike


being Mike. He doesn't take himself too seriously. I have played with


players who have played against me for years and joined meme on the


team and whatever, they tell me Mike, I thought you were, you know,


this type of person, and having met me, they always have a different


opinion, so I guess that is a nice thing to know.


Every four years, the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and


Wales are chosen to represent the British and Irish Lions and tour one


of the Southern Hemisphere rugby strongholds. Might has been chosen


twice, if 2009 he played in all three tests on the losing tour of


South Africa. In 2013 under Warren Gatland, the Lions created history.


Victory in Australia was their first series win for 16 years. Despite


struggling with a knee injury, Mike played in two of the three tests and


those two happened to be the matches that the Lions won to secure a 2-1


series win. Archive it! History made. The


Welshman in this very Lions team are having the time of their life. To


cement your place in the Pantheon you to win a Lions's tour. And I


think it was, I think it was probably the last of Mike Phillips's


at his world class best. And it is hard not to come back from a winning


Lions tour without thinking what beats that then? Barry John, 71 came


home, much younger than Mike Phillips and said where do I go from


here? So I think if you win a Lions tour, it can be difficult at the


tail end of your career, to get yourself back up for, just going


through it all again. On the last weekend of this year's six nation,


any one of four countries could win the Championship. Wales travelled to


face Italy in Rome, but would do so without Mike. For the first time


ever Gatland had dropped him from the squad. It was a big


disappointment for Mike. To be left out, I guess, the first time in my


career, since I had been in the Welsh squad, many moons ago, and


yes, it is tough to take. Here goes Webb, to the right-hand side, he is


going to do it himself. Wales put on a try fest in Rome but it wasn't


enough to win the Championship. Wales are over the line. Williams,


yes, another try in this sensational second half for Wales. Mike was left


hoping that it was not the end of the road for his career under


Gatland. We did have a brief chat and things, and in the past, I have


tended to be, tend to clog things up. It is important to get things


off your chest. He was good and positive, and you know, hopefully it


is not the end. Since 2011, Mike has played his club


rugby in France. Initially, he joined Bayonne from the Ospreys,


most of the world's top players were heading to the fashionable and


wealthy French league. To begin with, he settled well at the Basque


club and proved popular with his team-mates and the fans.


You sell many of these shirts. A lot. Number one? Number one. During


the second season things started to turn sour for Mike. A change of


coaches and dispointing results and he in the headlines again. The


future of Wales rugby international Mike Phillips is in doubt with


reports he has been sacked by his club. It is over allegations he was


under the influence of alcohol at work. We had a poor start. We were


second from bottom in the league, you know, I guess one of the highest


earners there, away a lot. They make a decision to you know, move me on


in such a way and it was nice the way they did it.


A bit of legal restrictions on it, but you know, didn't agree with the


way it ended there. You know,


you get your legal team behind you and you sort things out and,


you know, they ended up having to pay what they owed me, so headlines


are headlines, aren't they? And I think if people got a bit


of initiative, they can look behind it, but, you


know, there is no point saying... People don't want to hear good


things, they don't want to hear nice stories, they want to hear when


people fail or make a mistake and unfortunately, that is the way the


world is, is very, very sad but, yeah, that's the world we live


in and that's what it's like. The bad press and rumours that


followed Mike at Bayonne in 2013 didn't seem to worry Racing Metro.


Less than two months after leaving Bayonne, he signed for the Parisian


club and he was back at the very top level of European club rugby.


And it's Paris that has become home to Mike for the past two years.


Hello, welcome, bienvenue, come in. This is the apartment.


It's not massive, or anything. It's pretty close to training,


which is great. It was a short notice deal to come


here and the boy who gave me this was actually another nine as well,


he got injured, so he gave me his flat and his contract and I


almost had his girlfriend in the end as well, so...


A couple of heroes of mine. James Bond and George Best.


We got given these on the Lions. They put it above your peg.


I have stuck it on my bedroom door, just to give me a bit


of confidence and hopefully seal the deal if I get lucky.


Whenever they have an opportunity, Mike's parents visit him at


the flat on the outskirts of Paris. It is always nice to catch up


and for Morfydd to keep a close eye on her youngest son.


It's always great to see them and I always try to catch up with them


as often as possible. Yeah, it's great to have them


around, showing them around Paris. Nice having Mam in the kitchen,


and helping in the house. Mam is ironing all the shirts,


so I'm ready for a few nights out. And dad's always great


fun to be with. Do your best, that's all you can do,


isn't it? The French league is amongst one


of the most competitive and wealthy competitions in club rugby.


Racing are at the very top of the tree and have attracted some of the


world's top players, including All Blacks Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko.


Ironically, Mike's big rival Ronan O'Gara is now


one of Racing's coaches and fellow Welshman Luke Charteris


is one of Mike's team-mates and lives nearby, which is handy


for lifts to the matches, although Luke wishes Mike had a bigger car.


What's going on, Michael? Straight on.


Turn right, there, Mike. How have you been doing this travel,


Michael? Two years?


But there's many different ways you can take.


There is one route. You're in the wrong lane.


Excuse my French. He is a farmer from West Wales, he


doesn't understand two carriageways. Big city living,


it's not quite there, is it? Do we go left here?


You go down here and go left. I have spent a lot of time with Mike


over the years and he's a character, but he's a top guy,


he's one of the best. One of the first I would choose to


be around in any team environment just because of the banter he brings


and the person he is, really. 78, still single, living the dream.


That is the French Mike Phillips right there.


As with Wales, Mike has had to make do with a place


on the bench for most of 2015, but when he has appeared, the old hunger


of the competitor is still evident. And his mother Morfydd still


worries. I'm not a very good watcher.


Well, I want him to do well in a game


because I know he wants to do well. You know, as a mother,


you feel for your children. One of the perks


of being a rugby star is being able to treat your parents at some


of Paris's finest restaurants. Beyond his rugby career,


one future path that may be open to Mike would be modelling.


He is already quite an old hand on the catwalk.


As one of Racing Metro's club sponsors, the cosmetics company


Clarins are only too happy to include Mike and his colleagues


in their advertising campaigns. I think they have gone


from the best-looking down, so obviously I was first pick.


Juan, second choice. I don't know what Luke's doing here.


Feeling sorry for him. He looks very good and believe me,


when he is coming to our office in Paris where there is 95% women,


he is the one that they prefer. Yeah, it was a very pleasant shoot,


you know? Seeing all big guys, strong...


But they love it, you know? And when I was looking,


they are even more better looking than any type of models.


It's not only in Paris that Mike's modelling potential is in demand.


He recently signed a contract with leading London modelling agency MOT.


I was asked to go to meet up with this company in London


and ended up sort of signing this contract and I didn't really think


much of it, you know? And then all of a sudden, it's on


social media and it's on the front of the Western Wales, somehow.


I mean, there can't be much going on in Wales that day.


He's certainly got the looks. He certainly enjoys being


photographed and people enjoy looking at his photographs.


He calls Conor Murray a poor man's Mike Phillips.


I call Mike a poor man's George Clooney, but he takes it.


The problem with Mike, I think, is finding


a woman that he loves more than he loves himself, so it could be


a long time before Mike's married. I would like to see him


settling down now, yes, yes. His hair is going a bit silvery


and I think it is time. He may have got to the stage where


he is in his early 30s, he seen a lot of the other guys settle down.


I know he is very fond of his nephews, so, you know...


Maybe a more kind of grounded, low-key family life awaits Mike.


I am looking forward in the future to settling down,


having a family, of course. It is something I really want.


That is a big goal of mine, really. I think we all want to find the one,


don't we? We all want to fall in love and


hopefully, that can happen to me. Let's go!


At the beginning of June, Wales stepped up their preparation


for this year's Rugby World Cup. A 45-man squad travelled to two


gruelling training camps in Switzerland and Qatar.


Mike was included and needed to impress.


Before Warren Gatland would name his final 31-man squad


for the Rugby World Cup, Wales were to play three warm up matches.


The first of those would be against Ireland at Cardiff.


It would be the last chance for some of the players to impress.


Mike is included in the starting line-up.


It's his first start for Wales in 2015.


His 99th cap and maybe one of his most important.


The game made Mike the third most capped scrum-half


in the history of world rugby. It's a tough afternoon for Wales


and as the match develops and Ireland run in their five tries,


it becomes apparent that some of these Welsh players might not be


a part of Gatland's plans. Mike is substituted in


the 50th minute for Lloyd Williams. Ireland win the match 35-21.


Would this be Mike's last appearance at the Millennium Stadium?


The short wait for the news on the final World Cup squad would


be a long and anxious one. Then the news breaks that Mike has


been left out of the squad and would not play


in this year's Rugby World Cup. We had an e-mail to say that we


weren't required to come in. And that was it, really.


It was obviously disappointment and...


You know, frustration, really, at first, and then, you know, then


obviously your family and friends come into it and, you know...


You dwell on it and there's not a lot I could have differently, so...


You are so proud when things go well, you know?


And then when disappointments come along, you know, the whole family


shares his disappointment then. You know?


I've been part of the squad for, you know, 12 years,


13 years in the squad. Yeah,


I would have liked it if Gats had come up to me and said, "Mike, let's


have a chat," but there we are. You know, that is the nature of the


beast and, you know, it's cruel at times but, you know, it's simple.


If you're not good enough, you're not good enough and that's


the end of the day really. Wales's final warm up game


for this year's Rugby World Cup would be against Italy


at the Millennium Stadium. Early in the match, there is a bad


injury to scrum-half Rhys Webb. Oh, no.


That's Rhys Webb. This is not good news.


Not good news at all. Webb is carried from the field


with a serious foot injury. The twists and turns


of sporting fate are at it again. Rhys Webb is ruled out of the


Rugby World Cup. His replacement in


the squad would be Mike Phillips. Following a late-night phone call,


Mike flies in from Paris to join up with the Welsh World Cup squad.


When he got dropped, he didn't give up.


When he was left out of the World Cup squad,


I'm still available, he said. It says a lot


about him that it's a recognition of his failing powers, but also s


defiance was that I like that. I like that about rugby players,


who just go, I know, I know, but you think I am stopping?


You've got to be joking. This year's Rugby World Cup would be


yet another roller-coaster for Wales.


It would, however, be a frustrating time for Phillips.


With young scrum-halves Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams


playing well, the old warrior Mike Phillips was not chosen for any of


the matches and could only look on. On December the 1st, Mike Phillips


announced his decision to bring his career with Wales to an end.


I guess, for me, it is just a chance to close a chapter of my life.


I think playing for Wales has been a massive part of my life, my adult


life, really, since I was 20, 21. I think it's just a chance to close


that part of my life and to move on to the next chapter, a chance to


say thank you to everyone, to family, friends, all the supporters.


I think it's been amazing. That's all I wanted to do,


was to play rugby for Wales and it's nice to say...


To put a close on it as well and to move onto the next thing,


whatever that is. International rugby is tough,


you know? It's not easy.


You have to give absolutely everything to win a game


and I think it is those winning moments, you know, winning the


Grand Slams, championships, I have got those memories and I


will cherish them forever and nobody can take them away.


You know, from the start, I have been different, a different type


of nine, as well, and I wanted to help my team in every possible way


and bring that sort of aggression and energy and that was my role.


Now I'll be the guy on the side supporting the players and I'll be


supporting them, you know, with all my heart and I'll be enjoying my


pint on the side, I can assure you. If I could speak to myself


as an eight-year-old kid, you know, I'd have taken one cap, you know?


And to have the opportunity to represent


my country so many times for the Lions and things, 99 international


caps, I will take that. I am very proud,


very happy of what I have achieved. Yes, that is Mike Phillips signing


off on 99 international caps. Thank you very much.


# I'm just a soul who's intentions are good


# Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood


Maverick rugby star Mike Phillips has never been far away from the backpage headlines or the front page news. At the beginning of 2015 he was approaching the remarkable milestone of 100 international appearances. What would World Cup year bring? Would he shine in the twilight of his career, or would the sun set on what has been a great career and a story of highs and lows both on and off the rugby field?

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