Bath Rugby
Dave Attwood on England World Cup rejection: "I jumped through every hoop - it was devastating for me"
Tom Hamilton
November 26, 2015
© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Dave Attwood was contemplating moving abroad and jeopardising his international career after the devastation of being dropped from England's World Cup squad. But a combination of family and the desire to win silverware at Bath saw him sign a new three-year deal with the club this week.

The second-row felt let down by then head coach Stuart Lancaster, who eventually left him out of the final 31-player selection, and has told ESPN his outlook on the game changed as a result: he would stay true to himself and concentrate on being the best second-row he could be rather than attempting to conform to other idealistic views.

"I jumped through every hoop they wanted me to," Attwood told ESPN. "Missing out on the home World Cup was devastating for me.

"The decision was just down to one person's opinion and that was a steep learning curve for me. That's why I decided to look at contract negotiations and weigh up non-English options."

Attwood, 28, was heading into the final year of his contract at Bath and said he had offers to move to other Premiership clubs, PRO12, French, Japanese, South African and Australian sides. Current rules would have made him ineligible to play for England if he had moved abroad unless there were 'exceptional circumstances'.

Ultimately, Bath convinced him to stay and extend his contract with a new three-year deal, but not before some serious soul-searching.

"When we were in Argentina [the summer tour of 2013], the message I got from Lancaster was that he wanted me to be the biggest, most powerful second-row on the planet so I went out and got stronger than anyone else.

"Then in New Zealand [the summer tour of 2014], it was decided I needed to be trimmer and he wanted me to be more mobile on the pitch so I did that. Throughout the World Cup camps I was one of the fittest forwards on the conditioning side.

"I was also involved in 19 of the last 23 Test matches for England leading up to the squad announcement ... then I was cut out of the loop.

"Every morning in the camp I was thrilled to be in the offing; when I was jumping through the hoops I felt I was getting near to making the squad.

"Ultimately, I was cut out of the picture altogether. I was extremely down as a result, so when looking at my future I had to put the family first as England was out of my control.

"Day to day, I had to be where I enjoyed my rugby the most and that is Bath."

© David Jones/Getty Images

Attwood was one of the last to be cut from the England squad, but he was not alone in feeling cheated by the experience. On Wednesday, Luther Burrell, who was cut from England's World Cup squad like Attwood, claimed his exclusion left him "broken".

Recovering from the disappointment was tough. When he left England's base at Pennyhill Park after being dropped, Bath offered him some time off.

However, Attwood wanted to get back into the thick of it and it was the welcome he received from Bath that eventually convinced him to re-sign with the club he has been at since 2011.

"There were opportunities for me all over the place," he said. "We didn't pursue a lot of them but they were there. There were more lucrative offers and the experience of another country - such as Japan - was exciting but ultimately the best thing for me and the thing I am most excited about is the opportunity to win silverware with Bath. My decision to stay is based around family and the club.

"Getting back to Bath got me out of the World Cup slump -- a lot of the players I know at England could not wait to get back into their club environments. Which is a shame considering that international rugby should be the very pinnacle of your career!

"That's not just the Bath lads, it's the same elsewhere. I hope the new era with [new head coach] Eddie Jones gets that excitement back."

© Tom Hamilton

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