Q&A: PHIL THIEL, USA EAGLES RUGBY HOOKER

Please Share.
more
Phil Thiel

NEW PLYMOUTH, NZ –  Johnathan Wicklow Barberie caught up with rough-n-tumble USA Hooker, Phil Thiel, who works in the Engine Room of  Team USA.

JWB: Why rugby?
PT: I just kind of fell into it really, I was between Colleges and wanted to keep playing football but I joined up with my club team the Traverse Bay Blues in Michigan and was hooked. Also, my modeling career wasn’t quite working out, apparently there’s this rule that you have to be good-looking.

CLICK

JWB: Humble and funny! Who knew? Okay, I’ve never asked this question before: How long have you been… a hooker?
PT: Who told you about that?!? Just kidding… I’ve been playing Hooker since 2008; I was a prop before that and a Center/backrow (crazy I know) before that.
JWB: Follow-up: How brilliant would it be if your name was John Doe?
PT: I guess it would make my obituary confusing for loved ones…

JWB: Ha! Good one… Back to rugby. You and Chris Biller have seen a bunch of minutes at #2, while Mike Petri and Tim Usaz have shared time at scrumhalf. How difficult is it working in scrums with the different guys?
PT: It’s actually good because you get a feel for each guy, so in a big game situation you know how they are going to work with you. I have a ton of respect for Chris as a player so whoever starts, I know we will get the job done.
JWB: How about the lineouts? How difficult is it coming in cold?
PT: It’s a bit tougher than starting, but the callers do a great job of getting an easier ball at first – to build confidence and keep the rhythm going.

Phil & His Boss

JWB: When did develop a Thiel for the position?
PT: Ha ha… I almost missed that one. I am still developing as a hooker, I really enjoy the position though and I know I have a lot to learn and improve upon.

JWB: When did the realization hit you that you were in the game vs Ireland, putting the Eagles on the map in the minds of rugby fans everywhere?
PT: It was really before the game. We were so fired up and emotional it was fantastic to give people something to cheer about on such a somber day.

JWB: Playing hooker is crazier than playing goalie in lacrosse. It’s like a baseball catcher not wearing ANY equipment? Are you certifiably insane?
PT: No, but my Missus might disagree with me there. Like I said, I love playing Hooker and the safety rules make it a little less wild, I suppose. You used to have guys getting hacked in the shins and such at scrum-time but that element of the game has given way to more skill-based attributes.

JWB: Is it a prerequisite that all hookers are built like they catch pianos for a living and is it true that that is indeed your occupation, away from the pitch?
PT: If they ever decide that you don’t have to short and squatty to play Hooker I’m screwed, so please don’t tell anyone…and it depends on how high the piano is dropped from.

JWB: Understood… Speaking of safe landings, there is no position for which the words, “Touch… Pause… Engage!” hold more importance than that of hooker. Has it gone smoothly in the Rugby World Cup?
PT: It has been a good challenge because we have had such good scrum opposition. But we have relished the challenge and the opportunity to get better. You really just want to get a little jump on the ref’s call so you don’t get penalized but you still get a little advantage over the other team.

JWB: What EXACTLY is going on between you and former Eagle stand-out Dan Lyle!? This is what we found when Googling you!
PT: Not a bad player to be confused with! He was such a strong player – I hope I can compare favorably with him.

JWB: Now that you’ve established yourself do you believe you will earn a contract after the World Cup?
PT: We’ll see, I am in a good position because I have an education and a family and a pretty settled life, but that being said I would love to continue my career, and if a contract offer came up I know that I would have the support of my family and we would really enjoy the opportunity.

JWB: What is your favorite rugby story? On the whacky side.
PT: I plead the fifth…being known as the hip-hop hooker is pretty fun, but I am around such a great group of players and guys that I would call friends that everyday has its moments.

JWB: After the Russia match, there was some back and forth going on between a few of the boys. What was it all about? Can you trash talk in Russian? If so, give us an example.
PT: Ha ha… I can barely talk trash in English.

JWB: There has been a lot of hair stuff going on at the RWC and you’re not rookie when it comes to beards and hairstyles… Do blonds have more fun?
PT: That photo still haunts me, at least it wasn’t the mullet, though.

JWB: Who will be in the Finals of this RWC?
PT: I’m never very good at predictions, but New Zealand has been playing very well and they are on home soil so they would be tough to beat.

JWB: What’s next for you? Vacation, 9-5 or more rugby?
PT: Vacation first, then I just want to focus on spending time with my family and move from there.

JWB: Final question: Will you support your baby girl if she wants to be… a hooker? …In rugby of course!
PT: I’m thinking golf or tennis, but if she wanted to play rugby I would definitely support that.

JWB: Thank you, Phillip. Good look with Italy.
PT: Thanks. My pleasure, take care.

England 7s star, Mathew Drew Turner, tomorrow.

more
About Johnathan Wicklow Barberie 118 Articles
JWB is the contrived Kiwi sports personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges. Find him on Twitter at: @JWB_RWU