Learning to drive: WRU edition

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We sat down with some of Wales’ rugby players to find out what it was like for them when they first sat in the driver’s seat.

Learning to drive is like a rite of passage for many teenagers – from taking lessons to studying for theory tests, there’s a lot to take on. With that, everyone experiences learning to drive differently than others, as some may have more difficulty with parallel parking while others may struggle more with the theory test.

But what about the guys in the Wales Rugby team? What was it like for them when they were learning to drive? Surely it’s different for famous sportsmen? We sat down with some of the players to find out!

Alex Cuthbert

Date of Birth: 5th April 1990

Height: 1.98m (6’6”)

Position: Wing

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

Well for one, I kept failing! I had a ton of bad habits while I was learning to drive since I grew up driving on a farm, so when it came to taking lessons it was hard to break those habits.

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

One time for the theory, but 3 times for the practical.

3. What was your first car?

A Peugeot 206 for only a short time.

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

The best thing about getting my full licence was the freedom that comes with it and being able to get away from my parents.

5. What would be your dream car now?

Nissan GTR

Jake Ball

Date of Birth: 21st June 1991

Height: 2.01m (6’7”)

Position: Lock

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

The thing I remember the most is that I had a hard time learning how to change gears properly, but I also had a hard time with general steering and keeping the car straight – I’ve gotten better at that now thankfully!

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

Just once!

3. What was your first car?

Ford Focus, and I drove it for about a year.

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

Definitely the freedom! It was a great feeling to get out of the house whenever I wanted to. The first thing I did after getting my licence was pick up my mate and go for a drive around.

5. What would be your dream car now?

Porsche GT

Justin Tipuric

Date of Birth: 6th August 1989

Height: 1.88m (6’2”)

Position: Back Row

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

I really didn’t mind it and actually enjoyed it. I would have much rather been doing that than going to school.

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

It took me two times to pass my practical test. I failed the first time because I accidentally left an indicator on for way too long after turning a corner.

3. What was your first car?

A Seat Ibiza for 3 years, it was a great car.

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

Being able to go to McDonalds and other fast food restaurants whenever I wanted to and, of course, the freedom!

5. What would be your dream car now?

That’s a really tough one, but I’d have to say either an Audi R8 or an A7.

Ken Owens

Date of Birth: 3rd June 1987

Height: 1.85m (6’1”)

Position: Hooker

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

I remember being really nervous my first few times. There was also a lot of arguing with my mother and father. My mother constantly had her hand on the hand break because I made her so anxious while behind the wheel – yeah, there was definitely lots of back and forth and arguing between them and me!

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

It took me twice to pass the theory exam, but only once for my practical.

3. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

On my first drive on my own I actually went to pick up my grandfather. I then filled my car up with some petrol and dropped him off at a meeting.

4. What would be your dream car now?

Range Rover Sport

Leigh Halfpenny

Date of Birth: 22 December 1988

Height: 1.78m (5’10”)

Position: Full back

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

To be honest, I wasn’t a natural. It took me a bit longer than others to pick it up and to become comfortable with it.

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

It took me two times to pass my practical – the first time I was awful at parallel parking so I didn’t pass.

3. What was your first car?

Renault Clio

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

I think just having that freedom that comes with being able to drive on your own – especially not having to rely on my parents to take me to rugby training or to see my friends. I think the first place I went to was my mate’s house and I picked him up to go for a drive around.

5. What would be your dream car now?

I’m lucky enough to be currently driving my dream car which is a Land Rover.

Samson Lee

Date of Birth: 30th November 1992

Height: 1.80m (5’11”)

Position: Prop

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

I remember pulling up on hills and stalling all the time, I’d always roll backwards and nearly crash, but thankfully didn’t!

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

I thankfully passed the first time for both theory and practical!

3. What was your first car?

I actually had a strange first car, it was a Transfer Connect and I had it for about a year.

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

Being able to go wherever I wanted to go, the freedom!

5. What would be your dream car now?

I’d have to say the Mercedes Commodore.

Scott Baldwin

Date of Birth: 12th June 1988

Height: 1.91m (6’3”)

Position: Hooker

1. What do you remember about learning to drive?

Well, I didn’t stall out on my first lesson, but then stalled out on nearly every other lesson that I had – I must have stalled countless of times!

2. How many times did it take you to pass?

I passed the first time for both tests.

3. What was your first car?

An old white Seat Ibiza which I drove for 18 months and then had a Citroen Saxo which I bought off of one of my mates since he was upgrading cars.

4. What was the best thing about passing your driving test?

Being able to do whatever you want! The first place I went to was the motorway because I wanted to see what it was all about and to get it out of the way, so I hopped on and went to straight to Cardiff.

5. What would be your dream car now?

I’d love to have something like a done-up Defender or an old fashioned Jeep.

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