Premiership Rugby

Two-Time Rugby World Cup Winner Handre Pollard Elevates Leicester's Season

Two-Time Rugby World Cup Winner Handre Pollard Elevates Leicester's Season

Discover how two-time Rugby World Cup winner Handre Pollard's triumphant return to the Leicester Tigers is transforming the team's season.

Nov 21, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Two-Time Rugby World Cup Winner Handre Pollard Elevates Leicester's Season

Less than a month after clinching a historic Rugby World Cup victory, two-time Rugby World Cup winner Handre Pollard showcased his prowess for the Leicester Tigers in a thrilling East Midlands derby against the Northampton Saints. 

The fly-half played a pivotal role in the 26-17 victory, contributing 16 points and securing the team's first home win of the season. 

Pollard, initially not selected for the 2023 World Cup squad due to injury, joined the tournament as a late replacement. Recovering at Leicester, he had only 40 minutes of game time, before receiving the call-up, demonstrating his versatility and commitment to the team's success. 

"I was open to do anything," Pollard said. "If they needed me on game day, brilliant. If not, I had a different role to play. So, that was my mindset going in." 

Reflecting on his whirlwind experience, Pollard told Sky Sports that returning to Leicester has helped him process the World Cup's intensity. 

He emphasized the need to shift focus back to club duties, highlighting the great culture at Leicester, where players contribute positively, whether on the field or in training. 

"Playing at Welford Road is an experience that I always knew about as a young boy, and people spoke about it, but now playing here, it is unbelievable, and it’s such a privilege to be here," Pollard said of his experience at Welford Road. 

In contrast to the 2019 World Cup, where the Springboks faced a challenging path, playing five of the top six teams in the world, Pollard described the recent triumph as special, due to the tough route they had to navigate. He highlighted the emotional toll of winning one-point matches, especially in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final, three weeks in a row. 

"What makes this one special is the route we had to take and the teams we had to play against," Pollard said. "Winning one of those test matches in that manner is unbelievable, and the emotional toll it takes on you... That was unbelievable." 

Post-World Cup, the Springboks embarked on a four-day victory tour around South Africa, taking the trophy to the people. 

Pollard emphasized the profound impact they could have on the nation, bringing joy to those facing challenges and creating lasting memories for fans. He expressed the team's commitment to protecting this purpose going forward. 

"It brings something out of you as a player that, I think, you don’t even realize is there," he added. "It’s something we’re very sacred about, and we’re going to protect that with everything we have going forward because it’s truly special."

Now back with Leicester, Pollard is focused on performing well for his club. He expressed his love for playing at Welford Road, describing it as one of the most incredible places to play rugby. 

Despite the triumphs of winning World Cups, Pollard emphasized that his motivation for playing the game lies in the enjoyment, camaraderie and the simple pleasure of sharing a post-match beer with teammates. 

“I’ve never played the game for trophies, and winning World Cups is unbelievable; it’s great, but for me, it’s the enjoyment, the camaraderie and playing with your teammates and having a beer in the locker room after a great win. That’s why I’ve always played the game.” 

As Pollard brings his World Cup success to Leicester Tigers, fans can anticipate a season filled with his skill, determination and the joy he finds in the game.