During the exciting build up to tonight’s Rugby World Cup opening ceremony we’ve been talking to former international full back and Willow supporter, Tim Stimpson about the tournament, his career, and his support of Special Days.

WILLOW: Only four teams have ever won the World Cup, which country outside New Zealand,  England, South Africa and Australia stands the best chance of upsetting the odds?

TIM: France - they have the ability to beat anyone on the day.  The recent win over England will help build their self belief.

WILLOW: Who would be your three young stars to watch in the tournament?

TIM: From the England squad; George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Waston

WILLOW: What’s the one piece of advice you would give a young player?

TIM: To reach the top level, you can have no real weaknesses when it comes to defence and ball control.  Ask senior players and coaching staff to help you develop the strengths in your game.  It will help you appreciate what they are and of how to play to them as well as how you can support your team-mates.

WILLOW: Who was your boyhood sports hero?

TIM: Daley Thompson – the former decathlete and Olympic gold medallist – he’s a multi-sport winner with charisma to burn. 

WILLOW: If not rugby, what would you have done?

TIM: I love cricket too, so, given more time, I would have focussed on getting better.

WILLOW: The laws of the game have changed greatly over the years is there anything in rugby you’d change?

TIM: Just, as much as possible, to give the benefit of the doubt to the team going forward.

WILLOW: What's the best and worst thing about retirement?

TIM: Best - not putting your body through so much everyday..

Worst - missing that amazing feeling of going into a European Cup Final knowing you and your team can win.

WILLOW: You’ve done a lot to raise money for charitable causes since you retired.  What is it about Willow that you feel makes a real difference?

TIM: I want to do things that have a real meaning. Life can be especially tough for so many individuals and charities like Willow offer a service that can help make life a bit better.  By supporting Willow I believe I can help make a real difference.  Getting involved also enriches my life. I used to try to be part of the best rugby team in the World but I’m now older and a dad and I want to help others the best I can. For me that means being more generous in my time and spirit.

WILLOW: You’re heading up one of the teams for the Willow Golf Open, how do you fancy your chances against David Seaman’s team?

TIM: David is a classy sportsmen, so I’d expect him to know his way around a golf course. Most importantly I hope to be laughing, enjoying the day and making some new friends in the process.  Ideally, it will all come down to the last put on the 18th hole to decide the winning team. Hopefully, David will be a bit tired by then and might just leave it a bit short.

Tim Stimpson is competing in the Willow Open on Monday 5 October 2015 at the Royal Mid Surrey GC in aid of Willow.  Tim will head up the rugby team against David Seaman’s football team.  Each team comprises of nine 4Balls.  Places still available in both teams (£600 per 4Ball).  Please contact jade.francis@willowfoundation.org.uk to book or for more details.

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