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Richard Hill (rugby union, born 1973)

Richard Hill
Richard Hill.jpg
Birth nameRichard Anthony Hill MBE
Date of birth (1973-05-23) 23 May 1973 (age 46)
Place of birthDormansland, Surrey, England
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight17 st 0 lb (108 kg)
SchoolBishop Wordsworths School
UniversityWest London Institute (now Brunel University)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
To 1993 Salisbury ()
Correct as of 7 November 2007
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1993–2008 Saracens 275 (+110)
Correct as of 7 November 2007
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions
Correct as of 7 November 2007

Richard Anthony Hill MBE (born 23 May 1973) is a former rugby union footballer who played as a flanker for Saracens and England.

Often portrayed as the 'silent assassin' at both club and international level, Hill was renowned for his effective and abrasive style of forward play. Big hits, shrewd driving and energy-sapping support play, were features of his exceptionally well-rounded game which made him one of the most highly rated flankers of his era.[1]

He has a namesake, Richard John Hill, who played for England at scrum half between 1984 and 1992.

Early life

He was born on 23 May 1973 in Dormansland, Surrey.

On his mother's side, Hill is a second cousin removed of film director Peter Jackson[2] (Richard Hill's maternal grandmother and Peter Jackson's mother are first cousins both by father's side[3]). His nephew is left back, Ben Purrington[citation needed].

Hill attended Bishop Wordsworth's Grammar School in Salisbury, and gained early prominence as a schools international. It is coincidental that his namesake, who coaches Bristol, had also attended the same school and both played for Salisbury Rugby Club. Hill graduated from the West London Institute of Higher Education in Sports Science and Geography, in 1995. He also won the IB Mac prize in recognition of his combined academic and athletic achievements.[4] On 16 July 2002, Brunel University conferred upon Hill the honorary degree of Master of the University.[4]

Playing career

Early years

He made his first Saracens appearance in 1993.

Hill made his England debut in the 1997 Five Nations Championship against Scotland, playing at openside flanker. He was selected ahead of Neil Back, who was controversially ignored by the England team for that period. He toured South Africa with the British Lions in the summer of 1997, gaining two caps.

He missed Saracens’ Tetley's Bitter Cup victory in 1998 with a back injury.

Under new coach Clive Woodward, Hill was initially selected at openside, but was moved to blindside flanker to accommodate Neil Back on the openside flank, Lawrence Dallaglio moving from blindside to number eight. It was in this position, with this Hill, Back, Dallaglio combination of players, that Hill gained most of his caps.

2003 Rugby World Cup

Although Hill had been named in England's 2003 Rugby World Cup squad, his place appeared in jeopardy after he suffered a hamstring strain on the eve of the tournament. Coach Clive Woodward decided that it was worth the risk to keep Hill in the team.[5]

Hill missed the pool games, and days out from England's quarterfinal clash with Wales, scans on the injured hamstring initially revealed grim prospects, but Hill was encouraged by the team physios that it was still possible to recover in time for the semi-final.[6]

England saw off a brave challenge from Wales in the quarterfinal to advance to the semi-finals. Hill was named in the starting line up for the semi-final against France. England easily coped with the much-vaunted French back-row.[7] Hill played a key role in helping England defeat Australia in the final.[citation needed]

Later years

Since Neil Back's retirement in 2003, Hill switched back to the openside flanker role. He is the only player never to have been dropped during Sir Clive Woodward's England tenure,[8] due to his prolific work in the rucks and mauls. He played for Saracens and was selected for the England Saxons (A-Team) squad for the 2007 internationals.

Hill injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a match against London Irish on 3 October 2004, and underwent surgery three days later. He was out for the following seven months,[9] but returned to be named in a Lions touring squad for the third time in 2005. He was named in the starting fifteen for the first Lions Test against the All Blacks, but suffered a knee injury during the first half, ending his tour.

In January 2008 Hill announced that he would retire at the end of the current Guinness Premiership season, due to the toll taken upon his knee since his two injuries, which had left him with a permanent limp.[10] However, in April 2008, his man-of-the-match performance in the Heineken Cup victory over Ospreys confirmed his continued ability to perform at the highest level, even when playing on almost one leg. On 11 May 2008, Hill played his final game for Saracens, who won 25–20 against Bristol. On 20 September 2008, Hill appeared for the Help for Heroes XV in a charity match against Scott Gibbs' International XV at Twickenham Stadium to raise funds for injured servicemen and women. He scored a try in the Heroes' 29–10 win.[11]


  1. ^ "Six Nations Squad". BBC. 13 January 2004. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  2. ^ Hill, Richard (2006). Richard Hill: The Autobiography (Hardcover ed.). Orion Books. p. 223. ISBN 1-86941-555-8.
  3. ^ Hill. Richard Hill: The Autobiography. p. 223.
  4. ^ a b "Richard Hill – 2002". Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  5. ^ Barclay, Tom (12 August 2011). "Greatest Rugby World Cup XV: blindside flanker profiles – Richard Hill". The Telegraph.
  6. ^ McRae, Donald (2 February 2004). "Interview: Richard Hill". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "England into World Cup final". BBC Sport. 16 November 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
  8. ^ "What happened to the class of 2003?". BBC Sport. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
  9. ^ "Richard Hill returns to the fray". Guinness Premiership. 5 April 2005. Retrieved 13 September 2006.[dead link]
  10. ^ "Hill to retire at end of season". BBC News. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Johnson's Heroes win charity game". 20 September 2008.

External links