Tigers final stories

George Chuter has lots of experience with Leicester Tigers of cup finals.

The novelty of playing in a final is something that never wears off.

Regardless of how many you are involved in, you still get the same feelings of excitement, fear, anticipation, relief and pride in the days leading up to the actual game.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is trying to keep all the preparation as similar to the previous 30 or so weeks before. You have reached the final, so why would you try to change much in your preparation when that is what has got you there?

Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned. Whilst players and coaches can control things like training volume, food and recovery, some things are out of our control.

Before the 2008 EDF Cup final against the Ospreys, we boarded our coach at our hotel in Chiswick to make the 10 minute trip to Twickenham. As we pulled away, the coach's alarm decided it would go off.

Despite the efforts of our driver, it became apparent that there was no way to shut it off. As time was short, we would have to drive to the ground with the alarm blaring.

The fact that the tone was the same as the bus's horn was another unfortunate event. As we got to a roundabout 400 metres from the hotel, the traffic ground to a halt. So there we were, sat in total gridlock with our horn blaring.

During the proceeding 40 minute crawl through South-West London traffic, I lost count of the angry looks, rude gestures and verbal abuse that were directed at us by drivers and pedestrians alike.

George Chuter is one of Leicester Tigers most experienced players of the professional era

Things were not much better before the 2011 Premiership final.

Our usual pre-match procedure is to arrive at the ground around an hour before kick-off. This means that we have to leave at a certain time to ensure that traffic delays can be allowed for.

We were sat on the bus at the departure time before the game against Saracens, and our team manager became aware that five players were not on the bus.

She tried phoning each of them, but her calls all went straight to voicemail. When Cockers was informed, he was rather displeased.

With such a tight schedule, there was no room for lateness. He stormed off the bus and into the hotel to find the tardy group.

As he exploded into the hotel reception, the first thing he saw was a number of the front desk staff gathered around the entrance to the lifts. The doors were open about 3 inches, and the lift was stuck about a foot below the top of the doors.

Inside were the 5 missing players. They had got the lift down to get on the bus, but had become trapped when the lift malfunctioned.

Unable to get a signal on their phones, they were unable to alert Cockers as to their predicament.

An engineer was called and the rescue operation was under way. Eventually, after about 30 minutes of tinkering, he was able to lower the lift and open the doors wide enough to allow the guys to jump out.

They had had to strip to their underwear due to the excessive heat in the confined space of the lift car, and one of them had been freaking out due to a mild case of claustrophobia.

The delay meant that we arrived at Twickenham around 40 minutes before kick-off.

Not ideal!


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