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Tig Blog

Virtual standing ovation for skipper's landmark

It is no secret that The Tig has been a big fan of Tom Youngs for a long time. The Tig was already a fan when Tom gathered experience in the Championship, well before the big days of Test match rugby.

We have loved him in 199 games in a Tigers shirt, and with England and the Lions too.

The unmistakeable head-down and knees-up powerhouse running style was a feature in his early days at centre which remained intact when he transferred to lengthy service at hooker.

The tale of his move from backline to front row has been told many times before, but neither the repetition nor the sands of time should diminish the incredible success of a unique switch and a move which brought a Premiership Player of the Year award, a regular Test place and that place with the Lions in 2013.

Looking at it now, on the eve of his 200th appearance for Tigers, Tom was made to play in the middle of the front row.

The physical and mental demands have suited him perfectly, even if his back and neck may now beg to differ after a long shift in the era of rugby giants.

Youngs relished the work it took to get his body ready to play there and he has maintained that appetite on the pitch, completely emptying the tank in his appearances in green, white and red since establishing himself as first choice the best part of 10 years ago now.

There can be few people anywhere who have managed to pick themselves up as well as he has over the years, physically and metaphorically, and fewer still who maintain a hunger to keep doing it again and again.

He remains passionate about what Tigers means to him and how important the supporters are in that, even now with turnstiles closed.

The Tig can only imagine what strength others take from Tom, how respected he is around the senior players and how influential he has been with the younger ones trying to follow in his footsteps from academy to first team and beyond. And all with the humility and good grace that continues to make his family – and ours – proud.

It’s a shame his landmark appearance could not be shared with a full house of fans, but Tom will still have plenty of support behind him when he runs out at the head of the team on Friday.