FEATURE INTERVIEW | Hugh Tizard
When Hugh Tizard decided to leave Harlequins for Saracens more than a few eyebrows were raised.
The 22-year-old former England U20s lock had been at Harlequins since his teenage years and was a regular in the first team at the Stoop. Why then would he join a club with such a strong stable of locks which includes England and British & Irish Lions superstar Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, and Theo McFarland among others?
“A big motivation for me coming to Saracens was to work with the senior players at this club who are international standard, and to really challenge myself,” he said.
“I wanted a fresh start, and to experience a new environment outside of my comfort zone while working with world class coaches such as Mark McCall was also a big motivating factor for me. There is so much competition for places in this squad, but I’m confident I can give a good account of myself.
“The standard that they set themselves you have to improve to keep up with them. I’m just trying to take little bits of their game and learn from them because they are so experienced.”
While Saracens’ squad is littered with world class players, Itoje is the player Tizard is trying to learn from. The England star is a player Tizard has looked up to for several years, and he is confident working with Itoje on a daily basis will aid him in his quest to become an England international.
“Maro is a great mentor,” said Tizard. “You can always come to him and ask him any questions regardless of how experienced a player you are. The questions I ask are mainly lineout based because he is one of the best lineout forwards in world rugby.
“Since he got back from tour, he’s been a big help, and always been available to speak to. Playing for England was a factor in the move.
“I want to end up playing for England, but I need to play well for Saracens first, and hopefully that will lead on to other things.”
Tizard, who hails from Guildford, started his rugby at the age of seven at Guildfordians RFC before getting picked up by the Harlequins academy, and winning a scholarship at Cranleigh School. He has now flown the nest and is living in St Albans. Tizard has acquired a reputation as a physical no nonsense second row, but he insists his offloading game can be his point of difference when it comes to earning a place in the Saracens side.
Last season he came second in the Gallagher Premiership’s breakthrough player of the year list missing out to Henry Arundell from London Irish. And he is hoping to build on last season’s performances in a Saracens shirt.
“I’ll bring a lot of direct carrying, and physicality to the side which you must have if you want to be competitive in this league,” he said.
“But I think my point of difference is my offloading game. While I love getting stuck in and doing the dirty work I also enjoy getting the ball in my hands in the wide channels.
“I want to bring an all-round skillset, while I also need to contribute in the lineouts and the scrums. I enjoyed last season but I’m aware I’m now in a new environment and need to prove myself all over again.
“We’ve had a good start to the season, but we need to improve week on week.”
Saracens fell agonisingly short last season losing to eventual champions Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final at Twickenham. Although Tizard wasn’t at the club last season, he can sense a real determination to go one better this time around but is aware they will have to improve from game to game.
“I know it sounds ambitious but we want to win every game this season,” he said. “We want to be in the reckoning when it comes to finals and lifting silverware.
“I wasn’t here last season, but I can tell you this squad is determined to go one better this time round. It’s the hungriest environment I’ve been a part of in terms of wanting to win things.
“Training is very short and condensed. All the lads have been really welcoming, and I’ve enjoyed the first few games I’ve been a part of, and I’m looking forward to playing some more. I want to play as much rugby as possible and help Sarries to win some titles of some sort.”