by PREETI VIRDEE
I met up with the 23 year old scrum half on a pleasant autumn afternoon at The Twickenham Stoop, and I decided to give topics such ‘bloodgate’ and ‘snortgate’ a wide berth in the hopes of finding out a little more about this sprightly young sniper.
Just in case you don’t know the story, young Danny chose football over rugby growing up, and was signed up for the Sheffield Wednesday Academy. But apparently 5’8” is too short to play football; now I know about as much about football as I do about quantum physics, but having done just a spot of research, Diego Maradona is only 5’5”, Roberto Carlos, Romario and Nobby Stiles 5’6”, and even the late George Best was 5’8” – so like much of football that was nonsense.
But football’s loss was rugby’s gain. Let’s get the history bit out of the way...he was brought up in Yorkshire, played for the West Park Bramhope RUFC minis, and when forced away from professional football, he thought he’d give pro rugby a crack; having already been picked for the Yorkshire Schools U15s, he was signed up for the Leeds Carnegie Colts. Leeds proved an excellent training ground for him, and at the ripe old age of 19, he left Leeds to join Harlequins in 2006, and has extended his contract through till Summer 2011. Danny represented England at U16, U18, U19 and England 7s before he became a scrum half hopeful for the England Elite squad in 2008.
Since being part of the England senior squad set up, Care – or Chico as he affectionately know at Quins (can you see the resemblance?!) – has notched up an impressive 14 caps so far, and has been named in the England Six Nations Squad for 2010. With Harry Ellis marred by injury and having not played for his club for the last few matches, it’s really a race between Care and Paul Hodgson for the No. 9 shirt, though in the future he needs to watch out for the outstanding London Wasps pick-pocket Joe Simpson (luckily for Danny he’s out with a shoulder injury for the duration) as well the formidable Leicester Tiger Ben Youngs.
Now, back to Danny. He’s an affable young man, not that enamoured by the celebrity surrounding the young generation of international rugby players of today. He enjoys a sing-song, and would quite enjoy the prospect of being on Celebrity X-Factor rather than following in the successful footsteps of England World Cup winning scrum halves Kyran Bracken in Dancing on Ice or Matt Dawson in Strictly Come Dancing, the latter being Danny’s rugby hero growing up.
Not surprisingly, his heroes outside of rugby are footballers, and I’m sure the names will all mean something to you even though I’m at a bit of a loss with some of them (heathen I hear you cry!). So, it’s David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen.
Danny’s earliest memories of rugby are watching his elder brother play for the West Park Bramhope minis at the tender age of 5 in his hometown of Leeds. But he still maintains that his hidden talent is football and he is an avid Liverpool fan. The best sporting match in his eyes was the Champions League game where Chelsea beat Liverpool 4-3. But a defining moment in his original choice of profession was when he went to his first ever football match and Leeds United beat Blackburn 5-2.
On diverting his attention back to rugby, Danny’s best ever game he’s played in at every level was the incredibly exciting Quins Heineken Cup match against Stade Français in December 2008. Despite playing in front of a 76,000 strong predominantly French audience at the magnificent Stade de France, Quins stunned the rugby world by beating the boys in pink at home 15-10. Though Danny managed to earn himself a sin binning just before half time, he went on to claim Man of the Match status.
Care doesn’t have much of a ritual on match days apart from getting up as late as possible and driving as fast as he can to The Stoop. He prefers to run out last and has to find his Mum, Dad and girlfriend before he’s ready to take on whichever formidable opposition side that is hoping to dash Quins chances of notching up another win. He’s not really a superstitious chap, but thinks the prospect of being tapped on the head is a bit of a bad omen.
So when he’s not training, what does Chico get up to? Relaxing is high on the Care agenda, and like most rugby types, the recurring themes of golf, movies, chilling with friends take up much of his time. He listens to hip hop, his favourite films are Lord Of The Rings and The Wedding Crashers. Books, however, are not a priority and tend to get used to prop up his PS3.
The growing trend overtaking professional players is online gaming. As I’ve heard a few times now from the twenty-somethings across the Premiership, there appears to be a real addiction to PlayStation® across cyberspace. From the comfort of his own home, he can battle against Premiership players across the globe in the action game Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 – not surprisingly the third fastest selling video game in history. As Ackers of Telegraph fame discovered recently, this is what gets the boys excited.
When he’s not furiously gaming, Danny has the odd bad habit – he talks in his sleep which can’t be good for anyone – and could get one into a heap of trouble. But trouble isn’t something that phases Danny, as has been proved by landing himself in the sin bin a tad too often, and on big occasions this has been the difference between an England win or loss. Naughty naughty Mr Care! No doubt this will be firmly addressed in the upcoming England camp in the run up to the Six Nations.
And other things he shouldn’t really partake in...well it’s chocolate and fizzy drinks. But one can’t begrudge a honed athlete the odd guilty pleasure. Danny claims that he doesn’t buy into the metro-sexual tendencies of boys preening themselves – but of course he uses face scrub and face masks to keep him looking so fresh faced!
Danny also has a good sense of charity and fun. Early in 2009, he took part in the Cosmopolitan Everyman Campaign to raise awareness for testicular and prostate cancer, along with fellow Quins Will Skinner, David Strettle, Jordan Turner-Hall and Gonzalo Tiesi. Taking part meant stripping naked and posing as centrefolds which was enjoyed by ladies the world over, and just in case you have the urge to have a look, click on the picture to transport into the Cosmo Naked Centrefold world…
If he had all the money in the world, Danny would have a sprawling country farmhouse with a pool, a 7-a-side football pitch just like the one Robbie Williams has in his back yard, and the grounds would have a set of quad bikes to charge round on, no doubt causing chaos in the countryside. He’d have a brand new Ferrari – any Ferrari – in the garage, and would deck out his Mum and girlfriend in bling, as he’s not into showy watches etc himself. And gadgets – it would have to be a hover board of all things.
Vegas is Danny’s favourite city, and his dream holiday would be to fly all his mates over to Nevada for a huge blowout. And if limited to just a party back in blighty, it would have a Cowboys and Indians theme; everyone would arrive on horseback, and Girls Aloud would be the highlight of the night, as he’s got a thing for Cheryl Cole.
Interestingly though, it wouldn’t be Cheryl that would be a dinner guest but teen minx Megan Fox, along with, of course, David Beckham.
Danny is such a lad – but a lovely one with it. If he keeps up his performance levels and grows into his potential, it might not be that long until he can have all his dreams. With endorsement deals, sponsorship and what could be a prodigious international rugby career, there’s nothing but Danny Care that can stop him becoming a world-class scrum half that goes down famously in history rather than infamously.
Name: Daniel Stuart Care
Birthday: 2nd January 1987
Position: Scrum Half
Weight:84kg (13st 3lb)
Joined: Summer 2006
Former Clubs: Leeds Tykes [now Carnegie]
Hobbies: Gaming, Golf, Movies