Mike Tindall on fatherhood, The Good The Bad and The Rugby podcast and launching live shows in Sheffield

Yorkshire-born Mike Tindall is bringing his rugby podcast on tour with a series of live shows, kicking off in Yorkshire this week. Laura Reid speaks to him about what to expect.

“It’s a rugby podcast without really talking about rugby,” Mike Tindall says. “The show is always more about personalities than it is about rugby. It’s more about peeling back the layers to show people’s characters and what makes them tick.”

He’s talking about The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast, which the former England rugby union player launched with friend and fellow England star James Haskell and former Sky Sports rugby presenter Alex Payne in 2020. Now the trio are taking the show on the road, with a live tour starting in Sheffield tomorrow.

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Tindall admits it feels slightly daunting. Whilst he’s used to performing on the pitch in front of thousands of people, coming face to face with an audience in halls and theatres around the country is not in his comfort zone.

Mike Tindall is taking The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast on a live tour with friends James Haskell and Alex Payne. Photo: Cuffe and Taylor

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“We hope they will be noisy with cheers and clapping – instead of chanting and singing, maybe?,” he says. “I have thought about it a bit actually, as I have done a couple of live audience things. I joined the Question Of Sport live shows at the London Palladium and it was so nice to have that live interaction – but it’s very different to being in front of the crowd at Twickenham.”

He adds: “When you run out in front of a rugby crowd, you’re in a place where you know what you’re doing. With this event, it’s sort of unknown. But we are looking forward to it and I think we do sort of play up to a crowd so hopefully it will bring out the best of us. All that we want is people to go home having had a really fun night...We want to make people laugh.”

There’ll be some familiar faces in the audience for Tindall on the opening night. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the Otley-born sportstar, who is married to Zara Tindall, the granddaughter of The Queen - though he visits the region often, with his parents living in Huddersfield.

Alex Payne, James Haskell and Mike Tindall, who run The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

“I already know a few people who went to my school (Tindall was educated at Wakefield’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar School) who have got tickets to go,” he says. “It’s not going to be looking out at unknown faces some of the time, it’s going to be looking out at people you know.

“It will be great to go home as it were and I think the show will go down well with Yorkshire humour. They might not like Hask, he’s a bit Wellington College or Alex actually, he’s a bit Eton College. One out of three ain’t bad.”

There are three faces that definitely won’t be there though - his children, Mia, Lena and one-year-old Lucas.“I’m enjoying [being a father],” the 43-year-old says. “Three becomes a logistical nightmare is what we’ve found out, but it was nice to welcome a boy in and see what journey he takes us down…Fortunately I won’t be bringing them to any of the shows because we’ve all got potty mouths between the three of us so we won’t be bringing them to share that.”

Nowadays, Tindall lives in the Cotswolds with his family. “That’s going to be a bit of a hard thing being away. I know comedians do it all the time with big tours but when you’re not used to it, I’m sure that will be hard.”

Tindall was part of England’s Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2003 and later went on to captain his national team. At club level, his career saw him play for Bath RFC and West Country rivals Gloucester RFC until his retirement from competitive rugby in 2014. He was awarded an MBE in 2007 for his contribution to his sport and still plays for his local amateur club, Minchinhampton RFC.

Off the pitch, Tindall has appeared on reality TV series The Jump and Bear Grylls Mission Survive, and recently joined a special all-male panel Loose Women focusing on mental health.

He is also an active supporter and spokesman for the charity Cure Parkinson’s, sharing his experience of the disease through his father’s diagnosis. Philip Tindall was diagnosed with the condition in 2003, the same year his son won the Rugby World Cup.

“There are drugs out there and doctors and researchers doing fantastic things,” Tindall says. “I think once someone finds a valid option, I think it will lead to helping all of those brain diseases,” he adds, referencing dementia and motor neurone disease. “At this present moment it’s about raising as much money that you can that can go into research and also raising awareness so you can recognise these in people around you.”

Through The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast, Tindall also hopes to raise awareness of a different kind, highlighting the variety of characters there are in rugby and the range of backgrounds they come from.

Since launching in summer 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the show has grown to become the UK’s top sporting podcast, with more than three million listeners and 20 million-plus viewers online.

“It’s like you’ve walked into a pub and you’ve got three or four players who you like or want to hear the stories of and it’s like you’ve sat next to them and you’re allowed to listen away for an hour and a half,” Tindall says. “That’s what we try to do.

“It’s not going to be about rugby generally, it’s going to be about how you got there, what motivated you to get there, who helped you along the way, what the dark times look like, how you felt in those dark times, basically painting a fuller picture of the characters who play the game.

“There are huge characters, huge personalities, with different upbringings, different backgrounds, all sharing different stories that might relate to people in different ways. It might get someone going well he came from the same background as me, I’ve always wanted to play rugby, why can’t I go do it?

“It’s showing too that there aren’t any limitations. Rugby is a game that accepts pretty much everyone, big, small, athletic or not, everyone can play the game and there’s a position for everyone. That’s really what we’re trying to celebrate, not generally the sport as rugby but the people that make the sport happen.”

Episodes of the podcast have featured glimpses into each of the men’s lives – Tindall even announced his son’s dramatic birth on the bathroom floor - alongside guest appearances from some of the rugby world’s biggest stars.

When the trio take to the stage for the show, they will “recreate the trademark banter they have on air” and share tales from on and off the pitch. “The best thing about the pod and what we enjoy most is that we never know where it will go,” Tindall says. “The live shows are often the best ones, and that’s what we hope will translate into the tour– getting sneaky guests in and the unpredictability will be great.”

The Good, The Bad and The Ruby Live is at Sheffield City Hall on April 29. For tickets, visit www.cuffeandtaylor.com/events/goodbadrugby