Jack Nowell recording Decoding Athletes at home in Exeter.
Rugby

Get to know the real Jack Nowell in his revealing new podcast series

© Tongue Tied
The Rugby Union star is the latest athlete to feature in Red Bull's Decoding Athletes, which lifts the lid on the lives of elite sportspeople. Here's all you need to know about the new series...
Written by Sonny CohenPublished on
Ever wondered what the life of an elite rugby player is like? According to Jack Nowell's new podcast series, it's about more than just being fleet of foot and able to take a hit. You also need to be a black belt in pranking your teammates.
The Exeter Chiefs and England player is the star of season two of Red Bull's Decoding Athletes podcast, which goes live on February 18.
Over six episodes, Jack speaks to co-host Nick Bright about life as a rugby pro, his love of the south west of England, and the lessons he's learned over the course of his career. In the final episode of the series, he also gets a surprise visit from one of his all-time heroes...
Listen to or watch Decoding Athletes here from February 18. You can also listen and subscribe for free on Spotify, Apple, Amazon or any other major podcast provider.

Decoding Athletes: Jack Nowell. Full episode list:

  • Episode 1: My Chiefs Jack is joined by Exeter Chiefs and England team-mates Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie. The three share tales of their childhood together, growing up through the Exeter Academy and how all this resulted in one of the most successful seasons in the history of European rugby.
  • Episode 2: My Lessons Jack and Nick are joined by snowboarder Katie Ormerod. The three discuss what it takes to overcome injury, how this affects athletes mentally and whether Jack could ever follow in Katie's footsteps by becoming vegan...
  • Episode 3: My Culture How does your home town or region shape you? Jack reflects on how living in the south west has helped him become the athlete he is today.
  • Episode 4: My Sidelines An athlete's downtime can be as important as their training. In this episode, we get to the bottom of what Jack does away from the rugby pitch; his business interests and what he does to unwind.
  • Episode 5: My Body on the Line The risk of injury associated with rugby and how to put it into perspective as well as not allowing setbacks to stand in the way of achieving great things.
  • Episode 6: My Future Jack's life so far has been shaped and dominated by one sport. But what might things be like once he hangs up his scrum hat?
Guests in the series include snowboarder Katie Ormerod, surfer Andrew Cotton, and quadriplegic mountaineer Ed Jackson.
Jack's mum, Louisa, gives some insight into his formative years, while brother Frankie, an emerging star at Exeter's Academy, makes an appearance.
There's also Exeter and England teammates Luke Cowan-Dickie and Henry Slade, pro FIFA player Ryan Pessoa, and a nice man who has the unenviable – and seemingly never-ending – task of doing Jack's hair. He's called Rob.
We caught up with Jack to find out more...
I just speak about what I am thinking and what I am feeling... I find it best to just be honest.
Jack Nowell
Hi Jack. Congratulations on the podcast. How did you find it?
This is the first real podcast I have done – I don't know if I'm any good at it, but I find it quite easy to be honest!
I just speak about what I am thinking and what I am feeling; I did find it quite enjoyable saying a few things a bit differently. It feels like everyone knows a lot about me already, but I find it best to just be honest.
Did you like being able to put things in your own words?
I am always pretty straight in what I say and what I mean. I am not fake; if I think it, I tend to say it.
I have always been kind of the same in every interview, and like I said before it’s about being honest. That is the main thing: people tend to listen – and really buy into you – if you are interesting and they are learning stuff about you. If I sit there and do the generic, boring answers, then you aren’t going to get people wanting to know. If I sit back and say I was honest and that’s what I meant… then I am happy and I can go to sleep at night knowing that.
Over the course of the series, you have a lot of guests from different sports. Was it easy to find common ground?
Obviously we are all athletes in very different sports but we have all been through similar things.
With Andrew Cotton, he was sitting in his van out in Portugal, just waiting for a surf and I thought that was so cool – such an awesome life to live.
With Katie Ormerod, she does a completely different sport to me, but at the same time it is nice to know that you are not the only one going through struggles with rehab and trying to stay fit and putting yourself under stress.
I learned a lot from Ed Jackson, what he's gone through, being a rugby player, being pretty seriously injured, wondering if you will ever walk again. Knowing how mentally strong he is and what he has done now after what has happened to him is quite refreshing and pretty inspiring.
Jack Nowell at his home gym in Exeter recording Decoding Athletes.
Jack recording in his home gym in Exeter
Right from the first episode, bonding with teammates is a major theme – pranks come up quite a lot, too. Do you have a favourite prank that you've played on a teammate?
I think it is just our day-to-day stuff. We wind each other up so much that it all just rolls into one.
[In a rugby team] there's not a day where you're not having a laugh; there's always silly stuff like moving stuff around the changing room or pulling jokes on each other.
One of my favourite ones we used to do when we were younger was sending people to the coach's office. I think we did it to [former Exeter Chiefs teammate] Sam Hill – we told him [Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby] Rob Baxter needed to see him. It is so childish to see your mate walk up to the coach's office and say "Rob do you want to see me?" and he says, "No, what are you on about? Go away."
The little things like that are so childish but so funny at the same time.
When I was younger I was two minutes in every direction from the sea, that's what it was like living in Cornwall.
Episode four is dedicated to Cornwall. What does Cornish culture mean to you, and how has it shaped you?
When I was younger I was two minutes in every direction from the sea, that's what it was like living in Cornwall.
Rugby · 10 min
Jack Nowell: Never Quit
If we were not doing a proper training session, we were definitely down the beach playing rugby, surfing, in the water doing all different kinds of sports.
A lot of my friends who have moved to London or play for London clubs laugh at me now because I say I have moved to Exeter and I am so far away from the beach because it's a 20-minute drive. They look at me and think, "You're an absolute joke!".
Do you get much time to go and train on the coast?
At Exeter we train a lot in the gym and on the field, we don't just go down to Exmouth beach. We do a lot of it in preseason, but we don't just go down daily. It's definitely something I miss, being down there was class.
I am very much looking forward to moving back down to Cornwall eventually, one day, and to try to do some of the stuff I did as a kid again. Probably not as good or as quick and probably in a lot more pain, but it will be worth having a go.
Season two of Red Bull's Decoding Athletes podcast is available to watch and listen to here from February 18.
Listen and subscribe for free on Spotify, Apple, Amazon or any other major podcast provider.