Daniel Biggar needs no introduction. The 83-times capped international and his wife Alex are making a huge impact in Northampton, not just with rugby, but with cakes as well! With a Premiership title in his sights, 17 Wales caps away from 100 and a Lions tour beckoning, we caught up with Dan to find out what life is like in the East Midlands and which actor would be best to play him.
Hey Dan! After 11 years at the Ospreys, you moved to Saints for the start of 2018 season. How did the move originally come about?
I think I just needed a change of environment. If you’re in the same environment for a long time, it can become a little bit repetitive and I just needed a fresh challenge. Northampton were in the market for a 10 and it just fitted quite nicely for both parties. I signed quite far in advance actually, about a season ahead. But it worked out really well in the end.
Northampton is such a huge rugby town. Did you have an idea of just how big of a rugby town it was before you joined?
I said I wanted to leave Wales to try and get out of the “goldfish bowl” of Welsh rugby, but Northampton is just as rugby mad! Match days are great – the ground’s just on the outskirts of town, people flock there to the supporter’s village a couple of hours before the game. The match day at Franklin’s Gardens is something special actually. It’s a proper rugby club if that makes sense – it feels like a local rugby club and everyone’s in it together.
That’s what makes it quite special as well when you realise just how mad the town is. We’re actually living about half way between Northampton and Oxford, so it’s quite nice for us that were out of town a little bit. Not that many people in our village are huge rugby fans, so it’s quite nice to have a bit of detachment from the rugby mad town that is Northampton.
Are you able to relax a little bit in your village because you’re not being recognised all the time?
Yeah, it’s very nice actually. We tend to pop to the local supermarket and very rarely get recognised, and when people do it’s very sincere – they wish you all the best. And we tend to go down to Oxford on days off for shopping or lunch, and Oxford’s even more removed from rugby as well, so it’s quite nice to get away from it completely then.
“The match day at Franklin’s Gardens is something special actually. It’s a proper rugby club if that makes sense – it feels like a local rugby club and everyone’s in it together.”
How has your family settled in there?
Yeah really well, we’ve settled in really nicely. Coming from Swansea, we don’t realise how far out we are from everywhere. Everything is a day out. Whereas here in the Northamptonshire area you can get to London in an hour by train, you can get to Birmingham in an hour, Manchester in 2 – everything’s really close, and convenient to airports and motorways. So we’ve really enjoyed that side of it in terms of being central to everything in the country. And the countryside around here is as good as anything in the country.
We bought a place almost a year before we moved, because we liked it and liked the area. We’ve got a little boy called James, he’s 2 and a half, who’s adapting really well between the 2 houses. Because we head back for the six nations and for summer we kept our place in Wales, but we really love the area here.
Do you think he’ll end up in the forwards or the backs?
Hopefully he’ll be a cricketer, a tennis player or a golfer, something a bit sensible, rather than choosing almost the most ridiculous game you can possibly imagine! He’s not actually into balls at the minute, he’s really into animals, so I’m sure there’s plenty of time to get him involved, but no signs of anything like that just yet.
Can you tell us a bit about your wife Alex and her baking business?
Yeah, Biggar Bakes it’s called – she runs the business from home and she’s doing really well. She was a teacher before which she loved, but since we had James she discovered a real passion for it.
She started it as a bit of a hobby, then over the past year she’s found herself getting really busy, doing postal deliveries and boxing everything. She does wedding cakes to birthday cakes to cookies, brownies, cupcakes – all kinds of things.
Because we’re based between two places, it actually works really well for her because we get the trade in Northamptonshire when we’re up here and when we’re back in Swansea we get the trade there as well.
The plan in a few years time is that I will do the school run and Alex can do the work and do the baking from home, and I can go and have a round of golf in the afternoon!
That’s her thing, and she’s loving doing it at the minute which is great. Because it’s not easy for any partners of rugby players who are dictated to a little bit by where you play, so it’s great that she’s had something to focus on.
I suppose it takes her mind off you playing the most ridiculous sport!
I think so yeah! She’s actually disappointed that there’s gonna be no crowds at games by the looks of it for quite some time. She loves coming and she doesn’t miss too many games. She’s a big fan of rugby.
“She started it as a bit of a hobby, then over the past year she’s found herself getting really busy, doing postal deliveries and boxing everything. She does wedding cakes to birthday cakes to cookies, brownies, cupcakes – all kinds of things.”
Dan Biggar on Alex Biggar and Biggar Bakes
What impact do you think the lack of crowds will have on players?
I actually like a bit of a crowd and sometimes prefer if it’s a little bit noisier – I quite like it. Everyone will probably react differently. Nobody has played in these circumstances. I certainly never have in my career. I think I would be fairly confident in saying that after having this amount of time off and then going into games, with a crowd or no crowd, I don’t think anybody as an individual or as a team will be hitting their straps in the first week or two. I think it’s going to be finding out a little bit about yourself, getting a bit of rust off you, getting a bit of match sharpness in the bag. And trying to grind out a couple of results at the start rather than free flowing stuff in the opening rounds.
You’ve started back at stage 2 training this week. Can you tell us what that means?
Basically this is our 4th week back in now. For the first 3 weeks we were pretty much just doing weights and running individually, all socially distanced and wiping everything down after you use it. This week, we’ve moved into some team stuff, and that’ll progress onto some contact work and tackling to get everyone prepped for when games start. It’s a strange situation. It’ll be good to get back to some kind of normality.
Do you still keep in touch with the players from the Ospreys and what do you miss most about playing in Wales?
I’m lucky in that sense because I’m still involved internationally, so I still get to sample that part of it as well in a smaller dose. A lot of the boys I came through the academy with – Rhys Webb, Ashley Beck, Justin Tipuric, people like that – I am still in touch with quite a lot, and you get to see the dynamic of the boys in Wales when you’re back in camp. So I’ve got the best of both worlds really. I’ve got a really good set up here in Northampton, but also it’s nice to go back and have that closeness with the lads as well. In terms of missing playing in Wales, I’m still very fortunate that I get to do that. But I feel like the move here has been a really positive one for me. There’s nothing which I regret.
You’re targeting a Premiership win next year with the Saints, you’re 17 Wales caps away from 100, and the Lions tour is coming up. I was going to ask, “What does the future hold for Dan Bigger?” But there’s three huge goals right there!
The premiership one is a huge, huge one. It was a big move for me coming up here and a big transition over the last couple of years in terms of leadership, management and different ways of playing, so I really, really feel like if we could deliver a premiership, I could look back on this time and think, you know what, I made a huge difference to this club. And I hope that I’m making a difference in terms of performances anyway, but ultimately it would be the icing on the cake to deliver a premiership title.
So if we’re in with a shout for that and I’m playing well, and if I get the chance to add to the 83 caps and try to edge towards 100, everything follows then. If you’re adding to your international caps it gives you a chance to put some form together, and put yourself in the shop window for what’s coming up next summer. All 3 go hand in hand, so it’ll be an exciting 12 months ahead.
“I really, really feel like if we could deliver a premiership, I could look back on this time and think, you know what, I made a huge difference to this club.”
You’re a key figure for representing Wales around the world. Is there anyone else that you think is doing a great job promoting Wales?
The obvious one is Gareth Bale, who’s gone to Real Madrid, probably the biggest football club in the world. I think he’s won 3 or 4 champions leagues but the big thing is the passion that he shows in terms of where he’s from and playing for Wales. It looks as if that’s the most important thing. I think that banner which was held up – the “Wales, Golf, Madrid” one – just sums him up brilliantly. I really think he sees playing for Wales as a real pinnacle for him, and for someone who’s won European cups for Real Madrid, I think that’s a huge testament to him as a person, because he puts Wales on the map on a huge scale. I think he would be a really obvious one to point out. And also someone who deserves all the praise he gets and probably gets a bit of a harsh time in Spain. But he’s certainly got a huge admiration from us rugby boys.
Do the rugby boys get on well with the football boys?
Yeah we do, we don’t do a huge amount with them because they tend to be at the Vale at different times. But if they’re in camp as well they’ll come over and watch a couple of sessions. Ryan Giggs has come over before and we’ve been chatting to him. He’s quite a big rugby fan actually. They’re obviously in great form at the minute and looking forward to the Euros next year. They’re just very good blokes. I think Gareth Bale’s got his own private security firm looking after him when he’s at the Vale, whereas everyone else, us rugby players and football lads, can pretty much walk about freely. You know where he is in the hotel when you see them!
A few years back Mickey Rourke was planning to play Gareth Thomas in a film about his life, but it all fell through. Who do you think would be the best person to play you in a film about your life and why?
If you look at someone like Rhys Webb you’d have someone like Channing Tatum playing him. But I’ve been watching Ozark with Jason Bateman. I don’t know Jason Bateman obviously but the boys would say – even my wife would say to be fair – that I’m pretty boring, and she thinks I haven’t got too much about me! So I think the character he plays in Ozark is very much a dull, boring person, so I reckon it would be someone like him who would play me, something non-exciting. Certainly not someone like Mickey Rourke or Channing Tatum!
Are you working with any charities at the moment that we could help get involved with to promote and raise awareness?
There’s a charity called “4 Louis” who support families through stillbirth, miscarriage and child loss, who I’ve done some work with before and it’s something which is quite close to us in terms of people we know. They do unbelievable work providing little memoirs and boxes and trying to make what is obviously a devastating experience as nice as possible, if you can even say that. They do an unbelievable job actually, under very difficult circumstances.
Thank you to Dan and Alex Biggar. To find out more about Biggar Bakes and 4 Louis, please see the links below.
Biggar Bakes – Bespoke Contemporary Buttercream Cakes & Bakes, Based between South Wales & Northamptonshire
4 Louis – Supporting families through miscarriage, stillbirth and child loss
With all events cancelled in the near future, 4 Louis are going through a difficult time to raise much needed funds. St David’s World has set up a donation link on our Facebook page for anyone who would be able to support them.