The former England and Lions rugby star visiting Exmouth Marines

06:00 2 April 2022

Tony Underwood, former England and British and Irish Lions rugby star, will give a talk to young Marines in Exmouth next week.

The rugby star, who has won 28 caps for England and two for the Lions, is due to visit the Royal Marines Commando Training Center (CTCRM) on Thursday April 7 as part of his work with SSAFA, the forces charity armies.

It was at the 1995 World Cup that SSAFA friend Devon Tony first experienced the massive ups and downs that life in the public eye can inflict.

He scored what has been described as one of the best tries in the game’s history in England’s quarter-final defeat to Australia, only to be trampled a week later in the semi-final by the famous All-Black Jonah Lomu.

“Dealing with going from hero to zero with the eyes of the rugby world was a tough personal lesson, but it was a good lesson not to let that define me and it’s actually helped me in life ever since,” said said Tony.

After retiring from rugby due to injury, Tony trained to become a commercial airline pilot with EasyJet, then transferred to Virgin Atlantic and eventually achieved his ambition of becoming captain in command of the huge Airbus A380 with Emirates departing from Dubai.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, he and many other pilots suddenly found themselves without a job.

Partnering with notable industry figures, he formed The Wordplay Group Ltd and now offers human performance and engagement training to help clients mitigate the impact of unforeseen threats.

And he will use his experience and communication skills when speaking to the young men and women of the Royal Marines, who are often called upon to perform at the highest level in extreme and dangerous circumstances.

“I have the greatest respect for the men and women of our armed forces who give so much to protect our country,” he added.

“Threats abound these days and the work of these incredible people should be widely supported and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do my part through SSAFA Devon.”

For more information about SSAFA Devon contact Claire on 01392 254611 or visit

Charles P. Patton