Ex-England captain Robshaw wants to inspire a new generation in US rugby


London (AFP)

Former England captain Chris Robshaw wants to help inspire a new generation of American rugby players when he joins San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby.

The 34-year-old Harlequins backrow forward is set to bring the curtain down on his 16 years at the English Premiership club when the season finally ends after being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Robshaw signed a two-year contract with San Diego and wants to help nurture young players alongside New Zealand World Cup-winning New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu.

"It is not the level of the Premiership but I have spoken to a couple of the guys and they say it equates to the Championship (second tier) and it is growing," Robshaw told an online press conference on Monday.

"Ma'a Nonu and myself bring experience, which can hopefully help bring through the next generation of US players and aid further development.

"This is a sport where we pick it up at a young age like five or six years old, whereas over there a lot of guys picked it up a little bit later and for some it is their second sport."

"I hope to introduce them to some of the finer skills and dark arts," he added with a chuckle.

Robshaw, who captained England 43 times in his 66 Tests, said he had been considering a move abroad for a while as he and his wife (singer Camilla Kerslake) had wanted to experience a different country.

His new life in Major League Rugby will begin with pre-season training in January.

- Surf board -

Robshaw said the United States seemed like the perfect fit.

"English-speaking helped as I was very dyslexic as a kid," he said. "I would struggle in a foreign language.

"The choice of the move, there is an element of properly enjoying it and immersing in it.

"The fellows sometimes have not quite enjoyed their times abroad potentially as much as they thought they might have.

"We see it here at Harlequins. We have two good Argentinians who speak very good English as they were taught it from an early age at school. Even so, they want to speak to each other in Spanish."

Robshaw denied the move was motivated by money.

"I want to go somewhere new and San Diego, there is a bit of a raw and exciting element, an unknown quantity and completely different lifestyle," he said.

"Leaving one of the best cities in the world, well, South California is not a bad place to go.

"I have been told by the lads in San Diego 'get the surf board ready'."

Robshaw said he would take with him some great memories both from Harlequins and England, including winning the Premiership in 2012.

"Internationally speaking, running out at Twickenham in front of 80,000 people and singing the national anthem," he said.

"Captaining England -- there is nothing better... leading the guys out made me so proud, more than I could ever have imagined."

This year's Major League Rugby season was cancelled in March following the coronavirus outbreak.