- Charlie Hodgson receives RPA Special Merit Award
- Former England fly-half retiring at the end of the season
Sometimes when looking back at a career it is best to just let statistics tell a story and that is certainly the case with Charlie Hodgson.
2615 club points, 39 tries, 331 conversions, 548 penalties, 38 drop goals for both Sale Sharks and Saracens give a pretty good insight into his remarkable achievements in the game. He won Premiership titles with both clubs and can later this month end his career by helping Saracens seal a European and domestic double.
His England career started in equally impressive fashion, against Romania he amassed a 44-point haul, including two tries as England racked up 134 unanswered points.
Hodgson, 35, went on to play 38 times for his country, scoring 269 points and on Wednesday received the RPA Special Merit Award for his contribution to English rugby.
The Premiership top points scorer will retire at the end of the season and englandrugby.com caught up with Hodgson to reflect on his time in the game.
Hodgson made his England debut in 2001 but it is the 32-16 victory over the Springboks in 2004 that sticks out in his memory. Hodgson starred with a try in a 27-point personal haul, equalling the English record against the Springboks.
“Although Romania went very well and was my debut, I’d have to say South Africa in 2004 was my most memorable moment in an England shirt. It’s the one game that sticks out in my mind the most.”
FAVOURITE TEAM MATE
Hodgson began his career at Sale in 2000 and forged a close relationship with wing Mark Cueto who he also played international rugby with.
“Right from the very start I’ve been very close to Mark Cueto, he is one of my best mates and to play club rugby with him for a long time and then eventually to play in the same England team was pretty good. His competitive spirit stands out, he hated losing and every time he stepped on the field would give everything he had. I enjoyed seeing that side of him.”
“I have been very privileged in my career to have some amazing moments, winning games and trophies and playing in amazing stadiums. There are so many things that have happened along the way that I don’t think I could pick out one. I’ve been very lucky.”
Born in Halifax, Hodgson was a huge rugby league fan as a child and as he explains never considered a career in union when he was growing up.
“Growing up as a teenager professional rugby was not something I considered too much, maybe because I was in an area in Yorkshire where there was not a Premiership team. There wasn’t really that interest in rugby for me.
“I spent a lot of my time watching rugby league and it was never in my mind that I would become a professional player and to be in the game for such a long period of time I feel so fortunate to have played for 16 years and to be retiring on my terms.”
‘RESPECT AND CAMARADERIE’
Hodgson says he will miss the spirit and bond he has built with team mates at Saracens when he does call time on his career at the end of the season highlighting respect at all levels as one thing he loves about the game.
“I love the camaraderie you get with your mates, the feeling you get after a game when you are sat in the changing room, whether you have won or lost you share that moment together. I enjoy the respect it brings not just from our level but right down to under eight level where I’m helping coach one of my children’s team. The respect and the camaraderie are two things you learn to love.
“You never fail to have fun or be entertained, I tend to sit back and watch what goes on. There are some amazing people in rugby in team environments you tend to see the best of people. “
INCREDIBLE AND NERVE-WRACKING
So what was it like playing for England? Hodgson reveals the highs and lows of wearing the red rose.
“It was incredible, nerve-wracking, quite often the results were depressing, there is an amazing difference at international level between the highs of winning and lows of losing. Having to deal with those emotions was the big thing for me.”
PLAYING AT TWICKENHAM
“You never get bored of running out at Twickenham because every time you do it you want to do it again and again. It’s the bus journey on the way in, arriving at the car park, the feeling you get from the fans when you get off the coach and the noise you hear when you are singing the anthems. The whole build up to the game is incredible and you haven’t even kicked off yet. Everything that goes with a match day experience you can’t beat it.”
FACING THE HAKA
Hodgson is lucky enough to played in some memorable games for England and as he revealed always relished a trip across the border.
“The RBS 6 Nations has an amazing history and I think teams want to face England more than any other team in that competition and they want to beat England more than anyone else. Certainly playing Wales at the Millennium Stadium is an experience in itself. The noise that is created there is second to none, you can’t beat it. When the roof is on you cannot hear yourself speak and that was always one for me that I’d really look forward to.
“If you’re looking at the Southern Hemisphere teams then playing New Zealand, their history and the challenge of playing them and standing in front of the Haka.”
HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
“Somebody who tried their best and gave everything they could when they were on the field. For me, I’ve always given my best because that’s all you can do. “
A DREAM FINISH
Saracens take on Racing 92 in the final of the European Rugby Champions Cup this Saturday before a Premiership semi-final against Leicester. For Hodgson, it could be a perfect way to end his career.
“I’m not bothered about what legacy I may leave because there are different opinions on what people may think that is. This is my last opportunity to win the European Cup and to do that would be a pretty magical way to finish. If I could back that up with a Premiership win and walk away with a double then that’s what dreams are made off. “
‘I WON’T DO AN ANDY GOODE’
So what are the chances of Hodgson coming out of retirement like Andy Goode has done this season? As he explains, very slim.
“I’m excited and pleased to be in this position and hopefully there is a positive finish. It’s time, I don’t think you’ll be seeing me to do a Alex Goode.
Thank you so much for all your messages. Pretty overwhelmed by the support. Still a few months to go so I'll enjoy it while it lasts!— Charlie Hodgson (@CHodgson10) 26 November 2015
“Mentally I’m okay, but physically my body is telling me that is it. I’ve made the right decision, I’m at peace with it. I know I’m ready to finish and I’m content with my decision and I’m happy it is ending. It would make it all the more sweet by finishing with some silverware.”