Feature Interview | Swinson showing no sign of slowing down
When Tim Swinson came out of retirement last year to play for Saracens, it wasn’t long after his Wikipedia page had been updated.
The 34-year-old lock, who won 38 caps for Scotland, initially announced the end of his playing days in May 2020 before reversing his decision to feature in the Championship for the Men in Black.
Swinson’s Wikipedia page declares: “He announced his retirement from the game in May 2020 in order to pursue an apprenticeship in the same garage his Scotland and Glasgow Warriors team-mate Gordon Reid holds a position in.” It turns out, that isn’t quite correct.
“I’ve got a good idea who wrote that on my page,” laughs Swinson. “It was either Gordy or Rob Harley. I did a politics degree at the start of my professional rugby career between 2006 and 2010.
“My long-term plan back in my early days was going to be to go into the army and then become a Member of Parliament. But I don’t think being an MP these days allows you to have a positive influence on society as much as it did in the past so I’ve now done a law degree.
“I did it at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and I’d like to go into management consultancy in the future. I think I’m in a good place with it and I’ve got a lot of experiences from professional sport.
“Living in London has allowed me to network and do work experience to plan for the future.”
The London-born Swinson played more than 100 times for both Newcastle and Glasgow and he won what was then the Guinness PRO14 with the latter in 2015.
But when the chance to play for his boyhood club arose – Swinson played at Bramley Road as a junior – he jumped at the chance to team up with some familiar faces once more.
“I’m enjoying my rugby again and that’s the main thing,” Swinson says. “When I retired it was because I wasn’t enjoying it. I still felt like I could play at a high level, but being a rugby player is like any job because if you don’t enjoy it, then it’s not a place where you want to be.
“I thought I would move on to the second stage of my career, but then I had the opportunity to move to Saracens and work in a hugely positive environment.
“It was too good an opportunity to turn down. Even when we played together in the Championship in a season which was dominated by Covid-19, it was still hugely enjoyable.”
That is why in August, Swinson signed a new one-year contract extension with Saracens which runs until the end of the current 2021/22 season. So, what happens after that?
“I enjoy playing here at Saracens and I would like to play more,” says Swinson. “My body could do it, but it’s not as simple as what I want to do. The other pull on me is my wife Elly and my two children who are in Scotland dealing with a house renovation.
“It’s not a certain no to carrying on for next season and I am having so much fun at Saracens, but at some point, your family has to come first. Elly, like many wives of professional sportsmen, has put her career on hold for me while she looks after our children. She is a doctor by trade.
“You have a lot to be thankful for as a professional rugby player, but like any job there are sacrifices to be made and I do miss my family. Being away from my children especially is tough.
“They don’t understand the reasons why like my wife who has to play the role of the mother and father at the same time while helping with the house renovation.”
“Looking back at the Exeter game, there are a lot of things we can fix,” Swinson adds. “We did a lot of things that made it harder for us. We need to refocus on what we are good so we can play to the best of our ability. It’s never a good feeling knowing you have underperformed.
“Exeter played very well against us and I’m not taking any credit away from them, but we didn’t help ourselves with things like our discipline.
“The beauty of a team sport like rugby is you quickly get the chance to turn things around.”