Mike Phillips (rugby player)

Mike Phillips
Full name William Michael Phillips
Date of birth (1982-08-29) 29 August 1982
Place of birth Carmarthen, Wales
Height 191 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 101 kg (15 st 13 lb; 223 lb)
School Whitland School
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Scrum-half
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Llanelli Scarlets
Cardiff Blues
Racing 92
Sale Sharks
correct as of 16 November 2016.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2009, 2013
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 8 September 2015.

William Michael "Mike" Phillips (born 29 August 1982) is a rugby union player who plays at scrum-half. On 16 March 2013 Phillips surpassed the record of 76 caps set by Dwayne Peel as the most capped scrum-half for Wales.

Tall and powerful, unusual properties in a scrum half, he has been compared to ex-Wales international Terry Holmes.[1]

Personal life

The third son of dairy farmer Trevor and teacher Morfydd, Phillips was born and raised on the family farm between Bancyfelin and St Clears. He is a fluent Welsh speaker.[2] His middle brother became Welsh amateur boxing champion before fighting professionally, while his eldest brother Rob was a scrum-half with Whitland RFC, where Mike also spent his late teenage years as both a blind and open side flanker.[3]

Phillips then moved to Carmarthen RFC as a flanker, before playing at scrum-half; at 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m),[1][4]

Phillips was dating Welsh singer, Amie Duffy until May 2011, it is thought that they were together for 20 months.[5]

In October 2008 Phillips was hospitalised after an attack outside a Cardiff nightclub.[6] In June 2011 he was suspended from the Wales World Cup training squad after a late night incident in Cardiff.[7]

In September 2012 Phillips was suspended by his club Bayonne for one match for what was described as unacceptable off-field behaviour[8]

Mike Phillips is patron of UK Charity Follow Your Dreams, that works with children and young people with learning disabilities, a charity he is keen to promote and support.

Club career

Phillips made his first appearance for the Scarlets at the age of 20, and remained there in spite of restrictions in first team appearances due to the performances of Dwayne Peel, until the summer of 2005.[9][10][11]

Citing his lack of first team appearances as the main reason,[10][12] in 2005 Phillips signed for the Cardiff Blues starting most matches,[11] partnering fellow former Welsh Under-21 player Nicky Robinson.

In February 2007, Phillips was linked with a move to the Ospreys, on a basic wage of £180,000 as Cardiff Blues would not break their wage structure.[10][13] Having signed for the Ospreys, at first he was the second-choice scrum-half as former All-Black Justin Marshall held the role. Following Marshall's departure to Montpellier, Phillips had the chance to make the position his own but for a knee ligament injury, allowing the emergence of new signing Jamie Nutbrown to take the role.

In June 2011, Phillips left the Ospreys and joined French club Bayonne. In October 2013 he was sacked from Bayonne for repeated misconduct with the final incident being drunk at an analysis session following the loss to London Wasps in the Amlin Cup.[14][15]

On 2 December 2013, Phillips joined French club Racing Métro, linking up with fellow Wales internationals Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate.[16]

On 5 May 2016, Phillips will make his debut in the Aviva Premiership with English club Sale Sharks from the 2016-17 season.[17]

International career

Phillips represented Wales at Under 21 level where he played with fellow Cardiff player Nicky Robinson. In 2003 he made his Wales debut against Romania and scored a try.[18][19] Phillips toured Argentina[20] and South Africa in 2004, and also scored during the 2005 tour of the USA[21] and Canada.[22]

His performances for the Blues saw him get into the Wales squad for the 2006 Six Nations Championship, despite having a poor Autumn International where he started against New Zealand in a match that ended in a heavy defeat for Wales.

His first game came against Italy after Dwayne Peel, who had started the game at scrum-half was injured in the seventh minute. He also started against Les Bleus where he played extremely well, picking up the man of the match award. After a successful season with the Blues, he was picked for Wales's tour to Argentina where he started both tests.[23][24]

Phillips made the squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He started one match against Japan in which he scored a try and won the man of the match award. In all the other games he came off the bench. But Wales had a very disappointing tournament, being knocked out by Fiji in the pool stages.

In 2008, Wales appointed a new coach, Warren Gatland, who liked Phillips' physical presence. He forced his way into the Welsh team against England, for the 2008 Six Nations Championship. He scored the winning try as Wales claimed a 26–19 victory – their first at Twickenham in 20 years. Phillips started the next match against Scotland, which Wales won 30–15. Phillips was then replaced by Dwayne Peel for the match against Italy; however, he came on after 42 minutes after Peel was injured again, and made a significant impact as Wales thrashed the Azzuri 47–8. Phillips then started the match against Ireland. Wales made it four from four as they beat the Irish 16–12 to claim the triple crown. Phillips also started against France, as Wales claimed their second grand slam in four years with a 29–12 hammering of Les Bleus. Phillips was one of six players nominated for player of the tournament. But his fellow Ospreys teammate, Shane Williams, won the award.

A week after the grand slam a knee ligament injury ruled him out for six months, meaning he would miss the tour of South Africa and the Autumn Internationals. But Phillips made a strong return and started all five matches in the 2009 Six Nations Championship. He was named in the team of the tournament, but Wales finished a disappointing fourth after defeats to France and Ireland.

On 21 April 2009, Phillips was named as one of 13 Welsh players for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. And on 10 June 2009 he scored his first try for the Lions, contributing to their 39–3 victory against the Sharks. He also scored a try against the Springboks but the Lions lost 26–21, although they came back strongly after starting the second half 26–7 down. Phillips played in the next test, but the Lions lost again 28–25 thanks to a last-gasp penalty by Morné Steyn. Phillips played in the final test as well, and was only one of five players to play in all three tests. The Lions won their first test match since 2001 with a crunching 28–9 victory. Phillips' series was superb and he was one of the players of the tour.

On 12 March 2011, Phillips scored a controversial try against Ireland in the 2011 Six Nations Championship. When Irish fly-half Jonathan Sexton kicked the ball out of play, Wales hooker Matthew Rees proceeded to take a quick line-out with a different ball to the one which Sexton kicked out of play, which is against International Rugby Board regulations. Rees took the throw and Phillips held off Irish winger Tommy Bowe to score in the corner. The try was allowed to stand, and Wales won the game 19–13.

On 30 April 2013, Phillips was named in the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia squad.[25] On 1 June 2013, Phillips scored two tries in the Lions tour opening match against The Barbarians and was named man of the match.[26]

On 13 August 2015, Philips was cut from the Wales squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[27] On 8 September 2015, Philips was called into the World Cup squad to cover the injured Rhys Webb who has been ruled out.[28] However he didn't make an appearance during the World Cup and retired from international duty on 1 December 2015 with 99 caps to his name.[29]


In 2012, Welsh-speaking Phillips was the subject of a documentary on S4C, in which he stated he would never play for a Welsh club again.[30] Phillips also made a cameo appearance as himself in a 2012 episode of the UK TV comedy drama Stella.


  1. 1 2 "Phillips passes Holmes' approval". BBC Sport. 3 November 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  2. bbc.co.uk
  3. Walsh, David (11 January 2009). "Tall order for Mike Phillips". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  4. "Blues target scrum-half Phillips". BBC News. 17 December 2004. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  5. Coles, John (18 June 2011). "Duffy's Wales rugby ex in 3 am Cardiff Big Mac brawl". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  6. "Phillips drops charges". BBC News. 5 November 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. "Wales suspend Phillips". Bbc.co.uk. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  8. "Bayonne suspend Phillips". Bbc.co.uk. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. Llanelli Scarlets 17 Wasps 20 | Wasps v Sale : Wasps Fixtures, Results, Match Reports
  10. 1 2 3 "Blues resigned to losing Phillips". BBC News. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  11. 1 2 "Blues capture scrum-half Phillips". BBC News. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  12. "Official Website of the British & Irish Lions Rugby Tour – player profile". Lionsrugby.com. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  13. "Concern at agents' fees in Wales". BBC News. 4 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  14. "Mike Phillips jouera bien à Bayonne". le10sport.com (in French). 6 June 2011.
  15. "Mike Phillips profile". Itsrugby.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  16. "Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips joins Racing Metro". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  17. "Sale Sharks sign former Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips". BBC Sport. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  18. Welsh Rugby Union : Shane Strikes Twice To End Wales' Losing Run Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. "Wales win at last". BBC News. 27 August 2003. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  20. "Phillips relishes Pichot struggle". BBC News. 10 June 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  21. "USA 3–77 Wales". BBC News. 4 June 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  22. "Canada 3–60 Wales". BBC News. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  23. "Argentina 27–25 Wales". BBC News. 11 June 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  24. Welsh Rugby Union : Argentina clinch series Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. Paul Rees (30 April 2013). "Jonny Wilkinson turned down Lions chance, says Warren Gatland". London: Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  26. Foy, Chris (1 June 2013). "Too hot to handle! Lions fight (literally) in humid Hong Kong as Gatland's men make winning start to tour in romp over Barbarians". Daily Mail. London.
  27. "Wales World Cup squad reduced to 38 as Warren Gatland axes Richard Hibbard, James Hook and Mike Phillips". Daily Mail. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  28. "Rhys Webb: Injured Wales scrum-half to miss Rugby World Cup". BBC. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  29. "Mike Phillips: Wales scrum-half retires from international rugby". BBC. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  30. "Wales scrum half Mike Phillips reveals all in S4C interview", Daily Post, 28 January 2012. Accessed 9 October 2015
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