It might be a scene from The Golden Girls: a gaggle of aged women, simply ending lunch at a Californian ocean-front café, casting curious eyes on the burly man who has simply handed by their desk, his toddler son in arms, ordering a mocha.
“Oh there is that British man with his baby,” one murmurs. “He has the most wonderful manners…”
The man in query doesn’t hear the praise – or if he does, he’s too bashful to reply. Then once more, if anybody is entitled to be blissfully oblivious of their new world, it’s Chris Robshaw. Almost two years have handed for the reason that former England captain left his house nation to start out a brand new life in Major League Rugby with San Diego Legion, and together with his topped-up tan and tousled blonde hair, he might virtually go for a Californian surfer dude.
This is house now: Carlsbad, an achingly relaxed place round 35 miles up the Pacific coast from San Diego; a household city the place Robshaw, his soprano spouse Camilla Kerslake and their child son, Wilding, can benefit from the quiet life.
Robshaw might play for the native rugby crew however his celeb doesn’t register in Carlsbad, significantly when the likes of Rod Laver are additionally native residents. His accent, not his day job, is the chief focal point.
The final time I met Robshaw in individual was simply earlier than he had performed his final sport for Harlequins, in a hospitality suite on the Stoop in September 2020, the place he stared sadly in direction of the stadium’s towering neighbour Twickenham as he contemplated his profession. Back then, his ideas had been dominated by what had gone mistaken – particularly, the brutal exit from the 2015 World Cup – somewhat than his many highs: captaining his nation in a well-known victory over New Zealand in 2012, as an illustration, or touchdown the Premiership title with Quins.
Even his buddies in west London admitted Robshaw might be “intense” however right here, sitting exterior his favorite espresso store, the tranquility solely disturbed by the noise of breakers rolling onto the sand, that life feels a world away.
“I am a lot more chilled now and a lot of that has to do with the environment,” he admits. “I surf with some of the guys from the club. We are encouraged to go in the water as part of our recovery. I am still not very good though… For me it is so different. When I tell my friends at home that I go surfing they say: ‘This isn’t you!’ This has given me a different perspective. I am sure I appear differently, too?”
He does. Physically, he appears to be like – if something – even youthful than when he left London, however it’s his manner that’s so markedly remodeled. There is just no comparability between the person who appeared so guarded in his press conferences as England captain and the trustworthy and eloquent character sitting earlier than me.