Leicester Tigers captain Tom Youngs stressed the importance for young players to have ‘balance’ in their lives with interests away from rugby.
The hooker, who turns 34 on Thursday, could make his 200th appearance on Friday night when the Gallagher Premiership finally resumes with Sale Sharks’ visit to the Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
The round seven encounter comes in a week where the demands of the game during a global pandemic has seen Matteo Minozzi of Wasps and Joe Marler of Harlequins rule themselves out of international contention for the Six Nations due to personal reasons.
Youngs, who played 28 times for England and three times for the British and Irish Lions, juggles playing professional rugby with working on his family’s 1,400-acre arable farm in Norfolk.
“I think that I’m lucky that I know that balance in life in some regards, I got that from an early [age] how important having something outside of rugby was to me,” said Youngs, whose last cap game in England’s final pool match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“I’m always keen for these young guys to have that balance, because you could easily get sucked into rugby, rugby rugby, and it is your first priority over most things but you’ve got to also understand when you need to have a break away from it. What is that in life for you as an individual, mine is going on the farm.”
Youngs shares experiences of his non-rugby life on social media with his 12,300 followers on Instagram, with his commitments to the industry providing both immediate and long-term benefits.
“It’s completely different and I love it, I enjoy it and I will work whatever hours needs to be worked but I enjoy it,” he said. “I suppose I understood that from an early age that it was a really good get away for me.
“I think it’s important for the metal health side of things, obviously it’s risen a lot and maybe guys don’t have that second interest and maybe it’s something to look at and to understand.
“As an individual, rugby doesn’t last forever for one, it really doesn’t, and you’ve got to find something else in life to motivate you to make sure you do get a good balance of life.”
While Tigers have played just once in six weeks heading into Friday night’s game as Covid-19 wreaks havoc in the sport, life on the farm has been business as usual for Youngs and co.
“It’s pretty normal, luckily again they get to get on with their job, the farm doesn’t stop for anything so it carries on for dad so we’re pretty lucky that he can carry on working through it,” he said. “Things are pretty good there, pretty wet as everywhere in the country is but yeah we’re alright, getting some winter ploughing done so it’s not too bad.”