Our match at Sale Sharks marked a special occasion for Jonny May. The Cherry and White winger made his 150th Gloucester Rugby appearance, an achievement that as a young Gloucester Rugby Academy player, he would never have deemed possible.
“I wouldn’t have imagined anything unfolding the way that it has,” May said reflecting on his journey through the Academy ranks.
“It’s obviously a little bit strange with the nature of leaving for a few years and then coming back. I sort of lost track! I wasn’t even aware that I was anywhere near that or how many appearances I was on but I got told in the week that it was going to be my 150th and it’s a cool milestone but hopefully I’ve got many more games for Gloucester Rugby to come.”
May initially played 138 times for the club between 2009-2017 and scored 62 tries before a brief spell at Leicester Tigers before he returned to Kingsholm in 2020.
“It’s something I’m proud to have achieved because Gloucester Rugby is a special club to me and to play that many games for any club is good going. For the time being I just need to keep my head down and keep plugging away and play some more games. It’s the sort of thing that you can appreciate momentarily but really, it’s the sort of thing that you look back on when you’re done and you can admire your achievements at the end of your career. For now, I just want to get some more games and more importantly get some wins.”
Unfortunately, Gloucester Rugby were on the losing end of a physical encounter against Sale Sharks for May’s special day but the 31-year-old was able to get over the try line.
“It’s awesome scoring tries as a winger. It’s a bonus when that happens but I try and focus more on the fundamentals of my game. My defence, my high balls and build my game around that but when tries to come that’s always a bonus. It was good play from Ruan Ackermann just to give me a foot race which is something that I’m always up for. I managed to win the race to the ball and get over.”
Despite the fact that there were no fans in attendance, the Gloucester Rugby winger was still able to lead the team out, something that May is pleased to have done despite not wanting the focus to be on himself.
“The thought of leading the team out, for me, I don’t really like making it about me and I don’t really want to do that. I remember for my 50th cap for England I felt the same. It is a cool thing to do and a special thing to do so I’m glad I did it now. It’s an honour to do that and although it puts on a bit more pressure, it’s something to embrace and try to enjoy because it is a special moment.”
May has plenty of highlights from his career but when asked to pick out his favourite memory in the Cherry and White shirt he quickly replied with his answer.
“We won the Challenge Cup in 2015. It seems like a long time ago now. There is always a good traveling support with Gloucester Rugby. It was good to win some silverware for the club and hopefully we can win some more in the next period of time with Skivs (George Skivington) in charge. That’s certainly the aim. We want to start winning games but ultimately we want to be a team that wins trophies.”
Pulling on the famous jersey 150 times is a proud achievement but May is not letting it impact his preparation and is focused on trying to be better and help the team improve.
“My mindset has always just been one week at a time and one game at a time and it still is. There are some quite cool things that I’ve achieved now and I am proud of them but I’m not allowing myself to give myself a pat on the back just yet because I’m doing everything I can to get ready for the game at the weekend.
“That’s always been how I am. I’m always critical of myself and am trying to get better. I give myself a hard time and that’s where my head is every week. That would have been the same back when I was 18. I would have been taking it a week at a time and of course I’m aware that I have achieved some cool things but for the time being I just want to achieve more and keep getting better.”
It is clear to see why May is a world class rugby player. His mindset is geared towards improvement and he is so focused on performing well that even in victory he is thinking about the next challenge.
“It’s not necessarily enjoyment,” May says trying to describe how he feels after a good game. “I would like to get to that but at the moment it’s more of a relief. When we play well and we get a win it’s a big relief because of that release of pressure and expectation that we’ve hit our target. Then I can relax a little bit.
“Pretty quickly I get back onto thinking about what I or we as a team could have done better and what the challenge will be next week. It’s a quick turnaround. These little victories and milestones are nice moments but they are short lived. It’s always onto the next thing.”