A new beginning for Luke Charteris, the Wales rugby star whose body is finally healing after 18 years – Wales Online


Life is very different for Luke Charteris these days.

For the first time in 18 years, his body doesn’t ache when he wakes up on a Monday morning.

After putting his 6ft 9ins frame through the mill for season upon season, the former Wales second row has hung up his boots.

Now he’s the one putting the next generation of players through their paces, having moved into a set-piece coaching role with Bath.

So is he missing playing and everything that goes with it physically?

“Not at all,” replies the 36-year-old.

“The boys try and get me involved in some of the tackle drills, but I am avoiding all contact these days!

“It’s nice to wake up in the morning and not be stiff.

“The body feels really good. It’s finally recovered after 18 years of battering!

“It was certainly a nice change in pre-season.

“The first day when I saw the boys being beasted and put through their paces, I was very happy that I made the decision to retire because it was a tough one for them.

“I just try not to look too smug as they run out for their fitness and I’m stood on the side cheering them on.”

Charteris’ near two-decade playing career took in a long spell at the Dragons and then stints in France with Perpignan and Racing 92, ahead of a final foray at Bath.

Along the way, he won 74 caps for Wales in a Test journey spanning 13 years, sharing in the 2012 Grand Slam and the World Cup adventures of 2011 and 2015.

Luke Charteris contests a lineout during the 2011 World Cup semi-final against France

He was a key figure at the lineout, both as lifter and leaper, while his work in disrupting opposition mauls with his telescopic reach was crucial, as was his serial ruck-hitting.

And then there was his defence, as he put his body on the line time and again, most memorably during the 2015 Six Nations victory over Ireland, when he put in no fewer than 31 tackles, a Championship record.

Now it’s time to give that body a much-deserved break and begin a fresh chapter in his rugby life, as he brings all his expertise and experience to bear in coaching the Bath lineout.

“It’s really good. I am really enjoying it,” he said. 

“I’ve been reinvigorated by a new challenge. 

“Every day is different. The boys have been brilliant and they are working really hard.”

The eloquent Charteris, who has the level three RFU coaching badge, has moved straight from playing into his new role.

“I see it as a massive advantage,” he said.

“Half of the battle as a coach is having a relationship with players.

“If you go to a new environment – which is something I was looking at – it’s a huge challenge.

“Having knowledge of how the boys think, operate and work is a massive advantage.

“Obviously the relationship changes slightly, but I’m not coming in having changed who I am and my personality.

“That would not be genuine and the boys would pick up on that straight away. I’ll continue being myself. They’ve been brilliant so far. Really receptive, keen and eager.”

Luke Charteris wins lineout ball against Gloucester last season on one of his final outings before retiring from playing

He added: “I like to think I’ll remain pretty level-headed, as I was as a player. I think that was an asset, certainly as a lineout caller, trying to stay calm.

“If you fluctuate your mood and get too up and too down it’s not going to help. My job on game day is to see different pictures and relay those messages to the boys on the field, so I need to stay calm.

“I don’t think I’ll be throwing my hat around the box or anything like that unless something goes really badly.

“There will be times when you have to be hard on players and times you need to put an arm around them.

“My general approach as a player will continue in a similar sort of mould now I’m a coach.”

In preparation for his new role, Charteris flew out this summer to catch up with top Super Rugby franchises from South Africa and New Zealand.

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“I spent some time with the Lions in Johannesburg,” he said.

“They were amazing, very welcoming.

“I did a bit of coaching, saw how they did things and spent a lot of time with them. Then I went down to Cape Town and met up with the Crusaders who were there on tour.

“Just speaking to the coaches and the players, you pick up so much about the way things are done slightly differently in the southern hemisphere.

“Just getting ideas and looking at it from a coaching perspective it was an amazing experience. It certainly gave me a lot of tips, pointers and ideas going forward.

“The variation they use is pretty cool and something we can definitely bring into our game.

“The bigger thing was seeing how the environment works, how they interact with the players from a psychological point of view. There are all sorts of things that were really valuable to pick up.”

So, a new beginning and a new life for a man who has given his all to the game of rugby.


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