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?