Sporting Bygones: A tale of two Yorkshiremen as Tindall’s England captaincy draws parallels with Andrew

the careers of fellow Yorkshiremen Rob Andrew and Mike Tindall have taken very similar paths that finally converged at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the Six Nations, as England defeated Italy.

From Richmond and Otley, respectively, both England stalwarts have played in World Cups, British and Irish Lions tours and won grand slams.

Both made scoring England debuts and both came back stronger from the adversity of being dropped to be awarded MBEs for their services to the game.

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Tindall also matched Andrew’s achievement of captaining England for a second time at Twickenham on Saturday.

Andrew’s first match as England captain was a 58-3 drubbing of Romania in 1989, following that up with a 27-20 victory over Italy in the 1995 World Cup, when he scored 17 of his side’s points.

Tindall’s victory over Wales in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium on the opening night of this season’s Six Nations set England on their way for a grand slam challenge.

Tindall, engaged to the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, matched Andrew’s example with a victory over spirited yet limited Azurri opposition on Saturday.

Andrew was given the honour of being named England captain for two games due to the injuries sustained by Will Carling. Likewise Tindall, who has capitalised on the misfortune of injury to Lewis Moody to take charge of rejuvenated England.

Throughout his distinguished 71-cap career, Andrew was often criticised for his conservative style of play with the boot. But his strengths were his pin-point touch kicking and exceptional defence and he showed tremendous resolve throughout his career.

Away against rugby minnows Romania in Budapest, the team whom he had made his drop-goal scoring debut against four years earlier, captain Andrew led his team to an emphatic victory, directing the traffic and orchestrating the back line from fly-half.

Six years later and another injury sustained by Carling paved the way for Andrew to once again lead the Red Rose into battle, this time a 1995 World Cup pool match in South Africa.

England overcame Italy by seven points and, in the end, the boot of Andrew got them over the line.

His finest moment was to come in the quarter-finals, however, nailing a drop-goal on the stroke of full-time to beat Australia 25-22.

In the semi-finals, England were crushed by Jonah Lomu-inspired All Blacks. The big Kiwi was a one-man wrecking machine and scored a memorable try when steam-rollering over hapless full-back Mike Catt.

It was Catt who replaced an injured Tindall eight years later in England’s 2003 World Cup semi-final victory against France.

Tindall was back for the final, however, when it was a case of deja vu for Australia as they fell to another drop-goal – this time from Jonny Wilkinson in extra-time.

Known as ‘The Fridge’ for his sizeable frame, Tindall was nowhere to be seen when Martin Johnson named his elite player squad in 2008.

But like Andrew, he showed true Yorkshire grit to impress fellow World Cup winner Johnson enough to take the captain’s armband.

Andrew was no stranger to being dropped either, being axed for the 1993 Five Nations match against Scotland. For a player who set himself such high standards, Andrew said of his Scottish exclusion: “People will probably be surprised that has happened and I admit I am. I have an over-riding feeling of enormous disappointment.

“I have been dropped before and I am not going to throw in the towel. It’s not me. Being dropped by your country is simply one of the hardest things to cope with.

“It hits you very hard. The knocking starts to eat away at you and I was very disillusioned.”

Andrew came back from adversity time and again, producing outstanding displays for England.

He recently lost his position as director of elite rugby at the Rugby Football Union, but the former Cambridge University and Yorkshire Seconds cricketer who once bowled future England captain Mike Atherton for a duck, has applied for a new role within the RFU as operations director.

For this is a man who has given his all for the sport of rugby union, both on and off the pitch.

As has Tindall, who can break free of the Andrew parallels on February 26, by leading out England for a third time, when France are the visitors to Twickenham.