FORMER England rugby union player and now pundit Austin Healey knows nothing about strength and conditioning - and James Ford knows nothing about light entertainment.

That was one tweeter's comedy conclusion after Healey, known as the Leicester Lip in union circles, came in for stick amid an online row with the York City Knights boss over modern fitness coaching methods - in which he bizarrely tried to score points by posting a picture of his big red Jeep.

Healey, once a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, was largely shot down in the debate when sport science gurus joined in, but bragged about how many Twitter followers he had and derided Ford as the "head coach of a fourth division (sic) rugby league side".

Ford, amusingly, accepted he got his TV dancing programmes mixed up, having initially told Healey to "stick to Dancing On Ice". But he did say his mum liked them.

The argument ran over two days and saw several other Twitter users get involved, including fitness academics - who sided with Ford.

The exchange began after Healey, on the BT Sport programme Rugby Tonight, went against general sport science thinking and told 17 and 18-year-old rugby players to use yoga not weights to gain strength, arguing that gym work was a "waste of time" and "bad for you".

Ford - a Wakefield College tutor whose Kingstone Press League One (third tier) York side are unbeaten so far this year - tweeted Healey: "Just listened to your interview on BTSport regarding weight training and rugby. I'd suggest you stick to Dancing On Ice. Outrageous that @btsport let you spout such ignorant drivel #ReadSomeResearch."

Healey initially replied: "Actually it was strictly come dancing get your facts right S&C coach."

When Ford joked that programme was also rubbish, Healey tweeted a badly-worded riposte: "You're so right Fordy, top man... Not you your wedding suit or was it burtons? #keyboardwarrior"

Ford replied: "Not a keyboard warrior at all, merely pointing out your comments were ignorant and moronic."

When sports science experts Creating Athletes joined in to suggest Healey educated himself in athletic development, the former union player replied "Did my education when I played for England and Lions... Yours was what an exam."

After Ford described that comeback as "embarrassing", Healey tweeted: "If only I could of (sic) achieved the accolade of Head coach of a 4th division rugby league side (sic) my CV would be complete."

Other Twitter users said Healey by now had lost the argument and questioned his popularity in rugby, at which point the former Leicester Tigers utility, referring to his number of Twitter followers, said: "Who's the most liked? Just want to see how far away I am from him. Fordy the legend 843 Healey the life loser on the dole 126000."

When another Twitter user joked "Austin why don't you add how much bigger your house is, and how much more you earn," Healey, perhaps missing the point, duly uploaded a picture of his flash Jeep and expensive pushbike.

"Just for you here's my new car."

York Press:

Ironically, Healey - who has sought to become a TV personality since his rugby career finished a decade ago, including going on Strictly in 2008 - accused Ford of wanting fame and told him to "do one". The subject of "Twitter abuse" was also brought up.

He wrote: "You've had your 15 secs of fame ... Now back to obscurity #doone"

Ford said: "I'm not getting abused, nor did I abuse you. I said your comments were moronic and drivel. I never got personal as that would be unfair as I don't know you. But if I was to be abused for an outrageously incorrect statement I'd admit I was wrong and enjoy some of the banter."

Meanwhile, Dr Kevin Till, a senior lecturer in sports coaching at Leeds Beckett University, a researcher in athlete development and a sports and conditioning coach in the Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie academies, agreed with Ford.

He said: "Appropriate and planned strength and conditioning is essential for athlete development in all sports, especially within rugby."

Rhodri Lloyd, a senior lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University, likewise weighed in against Healey, saying it was "scandalous (that Healey's advice) reaches impressionable parents and their kids. Stick to scientific evidence."

Ford also threw in this tweet: "The thing is, Austin, your opinion is outweighed by an immense amount of evidence. If it makes you feel better, my mum watched that dancing programme."


CONGRATULATIONS to Russ Spiers who will make his 100th career appearance tomorrow.

It will be the prop's fifth game for the Knights since his off-season move, and adds to his 85 appearances for Doncaster (2012-2015), eight for Dewsbury (2013) and two for Wakefield (2011).

There's a notable appearance achievement afoot on the other side of Pennines, meanwhile, as Ireland international Stuart Littler is set for his 500th game - a very rare feat in the modern game.

Littler has played 36 games for Swinton since 2015, and was previously with Rochdale (12 loan games, 2014), Leigh (101, 2011-2014) and Salford (329 games, 1998-2010). He has also made 20 representative appearances for Ireland and played for the National League One side that faced New Zealand 'A' in 2003.


CONGRATULATIONS, too, to former Knights prodigy Greg Minikin after scoring twice on his full debut in Super League in the same week he turned 21.

Minikin, who joined Castleford after his Player of the Year achievements for York last term, bagged a first-half double for the Tigers away to Catalans Dragons, although the French side still won 41-22.

The centre's senior debut coincidentally had also come at Catalans, in the Knights' Challenge Cup tie there in May, 2013, after he rose through the ranks at Huntington Stadium.


GET your votes in for the Knights' March Player of the Month award by emailing

The winner will be presented at the next home game at Bootham Crescent, and get three bonus points for his Press Player of the Year tally.

That leaderboard, meanwhile, will be updated in next week's Focus on the Knights page.