After a year’s absence, Tom Wood returned to the England squad last autumn as injury cover for Mike Williams, of Leicester Tigers. He went on to make his first appearance in 13 months when helping the side to beat South Africa 37-21 at Twickenham in November., Northampton Saints’ new captain this season in succession to Lee Dickson, has made a strong recovery from neck surgery after playing through the pain for a significant part of the last campaign. Injury meant he was unavailable for selection for last summer’s tour of Australia but he signed a contract extension with the Saints in July. His 50th England cap was off the bench against Ireland in Dublin in March but he was unavailable for the June tour of Argentina after being sent off against Stade Français in a play-off at Franklin’s Gardens for a place in the 2017/18 European Champions Cup.
A winning 80-minute debut for Tom in the Wales match at Cardiff in February 2011 had complemented an irresistible personal and team performance and he was equally impressive in the subsequent victories over Italy and France. His seventh consecutive cap came in the Wales game at the Principality Stadium in August 2011 when he started for the sixth time. Tom's RWC debut followed against Georgia in Dunedin.
He sustained an injury to his left big toe the following January that prevented him from adding to his Test appearances in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship and the summer tour of South Africa. His first start in two months brought the man of the match award when Northampton beat the Scarlets 27-12 to reach the LV= Cup final, which Saints lost 26-14 to Leicester Tigers at Worcester a week later.
Three bigger prizes followed when he not only helped England to beat the All Blacks by a record 38-21 at Twickenham in December 2012 but he was also the QBE Man of the Match for his all-action and inspiring performance and, on his debut as captain, led his country to a 2-0 series win over Argentina in June 2013. His 13 tackles in the France match at Stade de France in February 2014 were the most by an England player in the game. Tom’s other memorable matches include leading Northampton Saints to the club’s first Premiership title at Twickenham in May that year before he played in the final two Tests in New Zealand.
Tom started all of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship games, the initial one against Scotland as a No.6 before switching to the middle of the back row. He was the leading ball winner in the line out from either side when England beat Italy 18-11 at Twickenham that March.
He had overcome surgery on his right shoulder at the end of 2008, when Mike Ruddock, then the Worcester director of rugby, said: "Tom is an outstanding young forward and a fantastic product of our thriving Academy system. He has a very bright future." This was illustrated when, in late January 2010, he was enlisted for the England Elite Player Squad as an injury replacement for Tom Croft, of Leicester Tigers.
His first call for the Saxons training squad for the match against Ireland A at Bath on January 31, 2010 supported Ruddock's view and Tom played off the bench in the second win over Italy A in Treviso eight days later.
After Tom joined the Worcester Academy, he sustained a broken leg before a spell in New Zealand with North Otago gave him renewed confidence and eagerness to impress at Sixways, the home of the Warriors. He switched to Northampton Saints for the 2010/11 season. He played 48 Premiership matches for Worcester and has since appeared in 101 for the Saints. He had captained England for a third time in the 19-14 victory over France in the Rugby World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham in August 2015 and was the QBE Man of the Match in England’s 21-13 win over Ireland three weeks later. He won his 40th cap against Wales that September.
Tom had made an instant impression at Franklin's Gardens, being the Premiership Man of the Match on his debut when Saints beat Leicester Tigers, who were the reigning champions, by 27-19.
He was educated at Woodlands School, Coventry where his playing origins were at the Barkers' Butts club, once a school old boys' team, near Meriden, which has been renowned for an academy of its own. His father Andy played National League rugby as a back row forward for Barkers' and Birmingham & Solihull and Tom's younger brother Rob was a Worcester Academy member.
Tom joined some eminent graduates from Barkers' in multi-capped former England flanker Neil Back, Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, and ex-England players Leon Lloyd, Danny Grewcock and Rob Hardwick. They are an inspiration in themselves.
2011 W, It, F, S, I, W(R), W World Cup - G, R(R) 2012 Fj(R), A(R), SA, NZ 2013 S, I, F, It, W, Arg(1,2), A, Arg, NZ 2014 F, S, I, W, It, NZ(2,3), NZ, SA, Sam(R), A 2015 S(R), F(R), F, I World Cup – Fj, W(R), A, U(R) 2016 SA, Arg, A 2017 F, W(R), It(R), S(R), I(R)
Last updated: 5 June 2017