Swinson’s short-lived retirement turned into a trophy-winning campaign with Saracens
Tim Swinson has had a rollercoaster 18 months as his short-lived retirement turned in to a trophy-winning campaign with Saracens, and after signing a new one year deal in the summer he is showing no signs of slowing down.
The 34-year-old had called time on his career which had seen him gain 38 caps for Scotland and win the Pro12 during his eight-year spell with Glasgow Warriors, but a phone call from North London proved too good to turn down.
Swinson, who has four months to his retirement then packed his bags and headed down to Stonex Stadium for what was planned to be a cameo, but turned in to a Championship winning season with the Men in Black.
“I didn’t expect it of course but it was such an honour. The quality of player here is incredible”
“So at the start of the 19/20 season I was fairly certain I would retire, and then with the lockdown it just felt like the right time.” Said the second-rower.
“Once I had announced my retirement I got a call from Nick Kennedy and Joe Shaw here at Sarries and it felt like a fantastic opportunity. I had been retired for a few months but I trained with them until the end of the season, and one thing I’ve learnt recently is that your plan is great but don’t be afraid when it changes which is exactly what has happened!”
That plan has proved to be pretty successful for Swinson, his relentless performances en route to the Championship promotion earned him the Players’ Player of the Season Award, a trophy which was cherished by the lock.
“I didn’t expect it of course but it was such an honour. The quality of player here is incredible, I’ve played against them for other teams but it’s only when you get here you see how hard they work. To get that respect and honour from people that you compete alongside was a very proud moment.
You work hard to get the respect and be accepted by the group, so I just kept my head down and it’s great to see the results.”
The 2020/21 campaign was different for the Scot for so many reasons, not only new surroundings but also despite all of the COVID-19 related restrictions it was still one fo the most enjoyable years that he has had in rugby.
“Last year was amazing, even with everything thrown at it in terms of the restrictions. If I looked at it now I’d probably say I’m closer to retirement than not, but it’s been so much fun here it would be a shame to stop.
“I’ve retired three times! But only once publicly, it is what it is and certainties at this stage of the season are not realistic so I’m just seeing what happens.
This season Swinson has also had plenty of game time in the pack, and is still loving his time at StoneX.
“As a club our results have gone well and we’ve been improving each week which means we are playing better as a team.”
He added: “Personally I feel it’s just a continuation of last year, I’ve been enjoying it as much as I did then and getting the same feeling. Of course we’re playing different opposition but the theme within the club is the same and we’re enjoying spending time with each other.”
Looking in from the outside Swinson always had tough battles when he met the Men in Black in European competition, and now as part of the environment he can see how it has given them the platform to lift silverware.
“Saracens have been incredibly successful, every time we played against them it was a very hard fought and physical game. Having come inside the group you really feel part of something and the guys have all come through together which makes it really special.
When you look at how long this team has stayed together and also stayed at the top level, that’s what makes it so impressive!”
The win over Bath grabbed the headlines up and down the country as Sarries flexed their muscles in scintillating fashion at The Rec, and Swinson paid tribute the Vunipola brothers who he is confident will continue to show their quality following international disappointment.
“Out of everyone I’ve played with they’re up there with the best. They’re exceptionally skilful and both so important for the team,. They’ve been here for such a long time and are real focal points of the team so I’m sure they will bounce back.
Against Bath it was the collective desire we have that allowed us to express ourselves. When we made a mistake we just got on with the next job and it was amazing to be involved in.”
Swinson will have his eyes set on another positive year at Saracens, and if his performances so far this season are anything to go by he will certainly be hugely influential in the quest for success at StoneX Stadium.