Former England star Healey plays in county derby

PUBLISHED: 12:53 04 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:29 26 October 2009

FORMER England rugby international Austin Healey played in a Herts county derby last weekend. Now a television pundit, Healey helped Bishop s Stortford go a long way towards staving off relegation from London One with victory over Old Albanians. Known as

FORMER England rugby international Austin Healey played in a Herts county derby last weekend.

Now a television pundit, Healey helped Bishop's Stortford go a long way towards staving off relegation from London One with victory over Old Albanians.

Known as the Leicester Lip during his playing days, Healey made a surprise emergence from his retirement to answer a call from an old friend and former Bishop's Stortford player, Ali Lukies.

The Silver Leys club, which has in the past nurtured England No 8s Ben Clarke and Ben Skirving, gave Healey - who won the majority of his 53 Test caps for England and the Lions at scrum-half or on the wing - an unaccustomed run in the No 13 jersey.

It worked though with a 25-10 win all but securing Stortford's league status for next season.

Bishop's Stortford are now fairly comfortably placed, four points clear of the London One relegation zone with two league matches remaining, away to Hertford and at home to Barnes.

Healey, rumoured to be in the frame for an England coaching job, will be unavailable for the first one as he will be in his more familiar role as a television pundit at the EDF Energy Cup final, but he has told Stortford he may be available for the season's finale against Barnes.

"What a great guy and what an ambassador for English rugby," said Russell Cattell, the first team manager and former coach at Bishop's Stortford, whose son Marcus played at inside centre alongside the former British & Irish Lion.

"I had registered Austin before the cut-off date a couple of months ago, as we had heard the whisper he might be available, but he didn't want to publicise it too much.

"Word got out though when we named the team and around 500 people turned up to watch."

He added: "Austin rocked up an hour and a half early to run through some drills with our backs and his impact on our young side was amazing.

"He was very personable and integrated straight away, which is pretty good considering he is 34 and the average age of our backs was about 21."

Stortford run five senior sides and 75 per cent of the first team squad have come through the mini and youth ranks.

"Every one of our starting backs against Old Albanians had played for us it mini, youth and colts levels, except Austin Healey," said Cattell.

"He has said he will let us know whether he can play in the last match against Barnes, but he has already left us with good memories, signing autographs for the kids before he had to rush off to his father's 60th birthday celebrations.


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