‘It would be, “Look, look, I’m being arrested by Lewis”‘: Folk hero Ludlow is a special constable who was banned from crowd control for fear of inciting a riot…now the Gloucester captain wants to cause a stir in the Premiership play-offs
- Lewis Ludlow and his team-mates lock horns with Harlequins on Saturday
- Gloucester must take something from the game to keep play-off hopes alive
- The 27-year-old flanker is also a special constable with Gloucestershire police
Some day, all going well, Lewis Ludlow will be on crowd-control duty in Gloucester, with a big dog for company. But for now, his priority remains to stir up public fervour in the city.
The captain of the West Country club will be hoping to do just that again on Saturday, when he and his team-mates lock horns with Harlequins at Twickenham, knowing that they need to take something from the game to keep their Premiership play-off hopes alive.
Ludlow will lead the visitors’ charge with typical energy and ferocity, at the grand arena where the flanker captained England on his Test debut last summer.
Gloucester captain Lewis Ludlow and his team-mates lock horns with Harlequins on Saturday
At 27, he has many years ahead of him to embellish his growing reputation as a modern-day folk hero at Kingsholm and in the surrounding area, where rugby is the primary passion. But Ludlow is already preparing to serve his community in a different role.
‘After rugby, my plan is to be a policeman,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I’m becoming a special constable with Gloucestershire police. I’ve had meetings with the deputy chief constable to work out how the transition happens. I feel like it’s very similar to a rugby team, in the police.
‘I’ve been out with the dog handlers and doing traffic stuff. I’ve tried to build up as much experience as possible before that time comes when a new flashy No 7 comes through who is much better than me. I can jump ship and become a police officer quickly!
The flanker will lead the visitors’ charge at Twickenham with typical energy and ferocity
‘The idea of being in the police, in a team environment, working locally, serving the city; that really appeals. I just have to hope that my body holds up. I don’t think you can be in the Police if your body is completely mangled!
‘I want to be a dog handler. I’ve got three dogs myself. I’ve got a German Shepherd, a Huskie and a Rottweiler. I’ve always had big dogs. Our next-door neighbour was a dog handler so I went out and did some training. I got bitten by the dogs. They chase you and you have to put your arm out. You hear the dog coming and before you know it, you’re on the ground and he’s standing over you with your arm in his mouth. I was just thinking, “This is cool. I could do this”.’
Given his status as a sporting figurehead in the local area, Ludlow has already been warned that he may not be allowed to take part in certain front-line duties, for fear of inadvertently inciting a riot.
Gloucester must take something from the game to keep their Premiership play-off hopes alive
‘One of the biggest things the specials do is help out on Friday and Saturday nights with city-centre crowd control,’ he added. ‘The chief constable said, “You can’t do that. We’re not insured to put you out there and if there’s something going on, you’ll end up causing more issues because of who you are. A bigger crowd will congregate”. It would be, “Look, look, I’m being arrested by Lewis”.’
Ludlow is a busy, active character. He runs a smallholding near Stroud with his wife – ‘I get a bit of tractor time, which is a good way to switch off’. He also helps his mechanic father do up classic cars, while finding time to further his preliminary training for the Police. But the fundamental focus is on his day-job. He is honoured to captain Gloucester and hopes to be making a difference, as the club continue their revival process under young director of rugby George Skivington.
‘I try to lead it by my example; by working as hard as I can,’ said Ludlow. ‘I won’t get beaten by anyone who is fitter than me and I’ll go into whatever hole I have to go into for this club. If I can motivate other people to follow that and do it too, that’s brilliant.
The 27-year-old forward is also a special constable with Gloucestershire police
‘I don’t see myself ever leaving. Every day, I still think how I wouldn’t be a professional rugby player if it wasn’t for Gloucester, so I will give it my all to repay the club for that. If that means going to war for them for as many years as possible, I’ll do that.
‘There will come a time when a young lad will come in and be a better seven than me, but I still wouldn’t want to leave – I’d just want to adapt and stay a part of the team and the club. Hopefully there are a few more years before that happens!’
Ludlow loves his role and the task of representing an area which craves rugby success. But he has enough humility to feel uneasy about some duties which come with the captaincy.
‘We had to do a photo-shoot for (league sponsors) Gallagher and the trophy was there,’ he said. ‘It felt a bit foreign doing the shoot with the cup. I didn’t want to lift it. I felt a bit awkward. We had to stand next to it but I was just thinking, “I’ll do this if I’ve won it”. It just didn’t feel right.
The 27-year-old has firmly established himself as a modern-day folk hero at Kingsholm
‘But of course, there’s a little voice in your head which tells you, if you do win something, you’ll be the one to lift the trophy. That’s a buzz, to think of that. At the end of the day, we all want to win stuff and as captain you have the bonus of being the one to lift it.’
Of course, he has England ambitions, just the same as all the other countless contenders who try to catch the eye of Eddie Jones. But Ludlow is determined to retain a sense of perspective. He gives body and soul to the cause for his club and hopes that will lead to more, without allowing the desire for higher honours to consume him.
Having been called up to take part in a training camp during the Six Nations – as a reminder that he is on the Red Rose radar – he said: ‘It’s good to feel like you’re in the frame, but there’s such a big player pool to pick from, so you can’t sulk if you don’t get picked.
‘That’s something I’ve tried to pass on to anyone else who’s there or thereabouts, “Don’t worry about it. If it happens, it happens. Don’t let it be the be-all and end-all of your life and your career. Want it, work your hardest to get it, don’t leave any stone unturned to get it, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s out of your control”.’
He could have been talking about the equation for Gloucester today. Whatever he and his team-mates do, the scramble for the last play-off place is out of their control as Northampton are currently in fourth. But Ludlow won’t leave any stone unturned and if the men around him follow that lead once again, Skivington’s side might find a way to stay in the title hunt.
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