Here’s one for the rugby union anoraks. Name the Scottish under-20 international who also played for England, was a lineout specialist who almost played in a rugby league World Cup then as a veteran 6ft 4, 18-stone second-row employed a personal sprint coach?
If you got to Coventry lock James Tyas a role on a Saturday evening TV quiz show awaits – although this week those most aware of the 32-year-old’s career will by then be otherwise engaged celebrating his 50th appearance for his current club and – hopefully – a win over Championship visitors Cornish Pirates.
In his third season with the blue-and-whites, the popular forward will this weekend lead out the team in front of a Butts Park Arena crowd swelled by the presence of around 15 of those friends and family.
Having previously played 51 games for last Saturday’s opponents London Scottish and 49 for Chinnor the man who combines organising Cov’s lineout with doing their detailed preparatory analysis is in familiar territory – and he’s loving it.
“Joining Coventry has been a big game-changer for me,” he says, “as before arriving here I was losing my love for the game.
“After a spell with Wakefield Trinity in rugby league during COVID I wasn’t sure which code I should be playing and was struggling to settle, but I have loved every second of the two-and-a-half seasons at Cov.
“I drive an hour each way from Bicester for training but I am so enthusiastic to make that journey and to keep on playing at Coventry.
“I have a big smile on my face all the time, after all who wouldn’t want to play in front of the brilliant fans at the BPA and in big games like the one coming up against the Pirates?
“My wife despairs when I say I have another five or six years of playing in me but if I continue looking after my body I believe that is possible. I have played 161 Championship games in total and would love to get to 200 and to 100 Cov games.”
Tyas had four years in Bath’s employment as a youngster during which he had loan spells with Saturday’s opponents plus Plymouth and Birmingham Moseley.
The Brighton College product then spent two years at Worcester and a stint with Rotherham before bouncing between Chinnor, London Scottish, rugby league (where COVID stopped him representing Scotland at the World Cup) and the briefest of sojourns with Wasps.
Throw in a couple of lengthy spells on the sidelines through injury and it would be reasonable to expect Tyas to be closing in on retirement. However, it is fair to say that the Scotland-born forward doesn’t quite see things this way and his commitment to staving off Old Father Time is impressive.
“Still being able to play in the Championship is down to the work I do away from the club,” he acknowledges.
“For the last seven years I’ve regularly seen Juliet Lock who is a chiropractor and during last summer I hired a sprint coach, Warwick South, to help me become a more explosive ball carrier.
“We started working together on the Monday after the last game of the season and continued for three or four hours a day through the five-week off-season.
“On the day that my wife Becky started in labour with our daughter Maddie I was training with Warwick on the road outside my house in Bicester.
“That work has given me a real edge this season. I feel like I’ve moved much better as a result of the sprint training. We have continued working together twice per week during the season and I am also still seeing Juliet weekly to keep my body in shape.”
Tyas explains that his journey to running Pro View, a company that provides detailed analytical breakdown of rugby matches to more than 100 clubs, began through chance. Thanks to the support he receives from Coventry chief executive Nick Johnston and head coach Alex Rae he believes it dovetails well with his onfield role at the BPA.
He says: “In 2016 while I was at Worcester I had a 16-month period out with a patella tendon injury. I was always the last player to leave the computers after analysis sessions and Dean Ryan encouraged me to get involved with it.
“During the season that the Warriors won the Championship I became one of their assistant analysts before my first role as a player-analyst then came at London Scottish.
“At Coventry I work with the coaches all week to provide information that helps them put a game-plan together and it’s really good to then see it put in practice on the pitch.
“The player-analyst doesn’t work in every environment but Alex Rae and the club have really backed me. Ed Barker has worked with me as our lead analyst for the last two years and he has been brilliant – without his efforts playing alongside doing the club’s analysis would be difficult.
“The Pirates game is especially exciting for me as we know the forwards battle will be so important. Their scrum and maul are really big parts of their game and they’re a massively physical and powerful team.
“It will be a really big challenge for us and a great chance for us to put a marker down against tough opposition and see where we really are. I love what we’re building at Cov and being part of that is really exciting.”
Buy tickets to Coventry Rugby’s next home game against Cornish Pirates on Saturday January 27th here: https://www.coventryrugby.co.uk/tickets/matchday-tickets/