'Everyone thinks that just by marrying Zara that means it's all fine and dandy… but you need a job': Mike Tindall says it took him a 'year to figure out what I was and who I was going to be' after his rugby career

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  • Mike appears in tonight’s Grand Slammers on ITV with his former rugby pals
  • READ MORE: Mike Tindall is surprised by Princess Anne at Royal Ascot while filming his new ITV reality show Grand Slammers
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

Mike Tindall has opened up about his life after rugby and his relationship with his royal wife in the new ITV reality show Grand Slammers.

The husband of King Charles’ niece Zara and former rugby international, 44, appears on tonight’s two-part programme alongside his former teammates, including Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery.

Alongside other players from the England Rugby team that won the 2003 World Cup, Mike enters HMP The Mount prison and attempts to build and train a team of inmates strong enough to compete against a formidable rival, the Australians.

In a clip from the programme, the former I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here contestant discusses how he was left trying to find his place after retiring from rugby in 2014.

He says: ‘Everyone thinks that just by marrying Zara that means it’s all fine and dandy… But that doesn’t stop the fact that you need a job. 

Mike Tindall has opened up about his life after rugby and his relationship with his wife Zara (pictured together in June 2023) in the new ITV reality show Grand Slammers

Mike Tindall has opened up about his life after rugby and his relationship with his wife Zara (pictured together in June 2023) in the new ITV reality show Grand Slammers

‘And it’s not that easy, you know – you get quite institutionalised into rugby, it’s a way of life and you leave the game and that’s not there.

‘I don’t think you can ever sort of describe when you’re so used to being around that many people, and understanding, because of it being ingrained in you, where you fit in to then not being that person.

‘Zara would say if she was honest it was probably a year it took me to figure out what I was, who I was going to be. You’ve got to then go carve where the next path is – you can never replace going to work with 35 of your best friends every day.’

Mike seems to have carved out a career for himself on the small screen, alongside a successful rugby-themed podcast. 

He appeared on I’m A Celeb and also a number of advertising campaigns, including for Domino’s and Amazon.

He also recently announced that his podcast The Good, The Bad and The Rugby would tour across the UK, with 17 dates set to take place.

The 17-date tour will start at the end of October and continue throughout November and December. 

According to an online description, it will see Mike join his fellow podcast hosts James Haskell and Alex Payne on stage and ‘sharing their own World Cup stories and recapping the action from France 2023… In their very own style.’ 

Mike and the King's niece, Zara, were wed in 2011 at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland

Mike and the King’s niece, Zara, were wed in 2011 at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland

Mike (pictured) appears on tonight's two-part programme alongside his former teammates, including Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery

Mike (pictured) appears on tonight’s two-part programme alongside his former teammates, including Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery

Mike previously admitted he ‘always worried about money’. He and his wife Zara, 41, each have a long list of brand ambassadorships, with names such as Musto, Rolex and Land Rover, which are estimated to bring in more than £1million a year, but many are tied to sport and horse riding. 

The new tour, and his appearance on the new reality show, comes after a busy year for Mike, who is believed to have raked in £600,000 for his Amazon and Domino’s adverts, as well as his appearance on I’m A Celebrity.

Elsewhere in Grand Slammers, Mike admits he was more nervous trying prison food than the pig’s uterus in the I’m a Celeb bushtucker trials. 

In a clip from the programme, the 2022 I’m A Celebrity campmate tries out some prison food while working in the kitchens.

He says: ‘I ate a sheep’s vagina and a pig’s uterus while I was in the jungle and I’m more nervous about this.’

Elsewhere, Mike says he was more nervous trying prison food than the pig's uterus in the I'm a Celeb bushtucker trials on the new ITV show Grand Slammers

Elsewhere, Mike says he was more nervous trying prison food than the pig’s uterus in the I’m a Celeb bushtucker trials on the new ITV show Grand Slammers

In a clip from the programme, the 2022 I'm A Celebrity campmate tries out some prison food while he's working in the kitchens

In a clip from the programme, the 2022 I’m A Celebrity campmate tries out some prison food while he’s working in the kitchens

Taking a mouthful, he admits: ‘I can get by on that. Better than what Matt Hancock got cooked.’

He also tries on chef’s whites for size in the prison kitchen with an inmate called Chris.

Mike asks: ‘Have you purposely given me your leg length, or…?’ Chris replies: ‘You’re two inches taller than me, come on, that’ll fit.’

Mike cheekily says: ‘You’ve got two inches on me somewhere else. I meant waist – you’re a sicko, you know that.’

As the trousers come up tight and short he asks Chris what size he got him, and as they walk off to start their kitchen shift, he says: ‘I feel like I’m about to go on a boat.’

In the show, Lawrence Dallaglio also speaks about his reaction after the death of his sister Francesca in the Marchioness disaster on the Thames in 1989, before he started his career in professional rugby.

He says: ‘I lost my sister when I was 16 on the Marchioness river disaster. She drowned in a terrible accident that claimed the lives of over 50 passengers. 

‘It blew my world apart, and for a couple of years I was getting in and out of trouble. I was getting kicked out of schools.’

Taking a mouthful, he says: 'I can get by on that. Better than what Matt Hancock got cooked'

Taking a mouthful, he says: ‘I can get by on that. Better than what Matt Hancock got cooked’

Mike also tries on chef's whites for size in the prison kitchen with an inmate called Chris

Mike also tries on chef’s whites for size in the prison kitchen with an inmate called Chris

Playing out over two consecutive nights, Grand Slammers sees the players enter HMP The Mount ¿ home to one of the only remaining rugby pitches inside an adult male English prison. Pictured, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall and Matt Dawson

Playing out over two consecutive nights, Grand Slammers sees the players enter HMP The Mount – home to one of the only remaining rugby pitches inside an adult male English prison. Pictured, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall and Matt Dawson

In the new show members of the victorious 2003 side including captain Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil Vickery, Jason Robinson, Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen, Mike Tindall and Matt Dawson attempt to build and train a team of prisoners to be strong enough to compete against a formidable rival, the Australians.

Playing out over two consecutive nights during ITV’s exclusive coverage of this year’s tournament, Grand Slammers sees the sportsmen enter HMP The Mount – home to one of the only remaining rugby pitches inside an adult male English prison.

The players are aiming to show their novices the spirit of rugby and its broad appeal with all the camaraderie, intensity, emotion, buzz and laughter that comes with being part of a team focused on a common goal.

Matt Dawson says: ‘Twenty years ago, the last time we were all together, we were holding the trophy, jumping around, medals, cuddling, drinking. I don’t think any of us were saying the next time we meet we are going to be in prison.’

In the first episode, rugby legends Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Tindall reunite, facing an intimidating challenge – recruiting a group of prisoners who have very little idea of what the sport involves.

Ben Cohen, Jason Robinson, Mike Tindall, Martin Johnson, Phil Vickery, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, and Matt Dawson on the new series

Ben Cohen, Jason Robinson, Mike Tindall, Martin Johnson, Phil Vickery, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, and Matt Dawson on the new series 

Martin Johnson and Phil Vickery are pictured training the Inmates for their big game

Martin Johnson and Phil Vickery are pictured training the Inmates for their big game

Lawrence says he is determined to help the prisoners change their ways: ‘A lot of people would argue, well why should they be allowed to play rugby, why should we be giving them this opportunity? But in my opinion no one’s born bad, they’re just born into different circumstances.’

Martin, England’s captain in 2003, is coach and tries to persuade the prisoners on the wing to join the fledgling team, most of whom are not interested. 

He says: ‘It’s interesting – a lot of guys have got quite a lot of bravado… But not too many are up for rugby. So it’s a bit of a challenge.’

Once he gets a group of players together, Martin speaks to Graham Sale, a PE instructor, asking if his fellow staff would be up for a game, and he agrees. 

Graham reveals: ‘The last prisoner-prison officer game I played in, we had to take three of the prisoners to A&E, and two of the staff to A&E. People were most probably thinking there was a riot going on, but it was just a game of rugby.’

During the programme, some of the prisoners are struggling to grasp the new game with prisoner Pete saying he ‘doesn’t want to let the team down.’

Pete admits: ‘My anxiety is going through the roof, just because I don’t fully understand the game of rugby, like my position and where I need to be on the field, and I don’t want to let the team down.’

The second episode culminates in a once-in-a-lifetime rugby match where the former teammates play alongside the prisoners they’ve trained to recreate the Rugby World Cup final from 20 years ago – this time against a team of ex-pat Australian rugby players bossed by retired Australian rugby union player George Gregan.

Grand Slammers ITV1 & ITVX 9pm Weds 27th & Thurs 28th September







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