After graduating with a BSc in Sociology in 1994, followed by an MA in Medieval Studies in 1996, Michael spent a year at Guildford School of Acting. He then opted for a career in sportswriting, since it was more tempting than some of the acting jobs he was being offered at the time. He started as a reporter for The Times, writing rugby match reports and features on a freelance basis from 1996 until 2002.
In 1997, Matt Singer (BSc 1995), who had been Michael’s flatmate at Bristol, turned professional as a rugby player at Saracens RFC. Michael and Matt managed to get permission from the club’s owner, Nigel Wray (BSc 1970, Hon LLD 2005), to write a book about the early years of the professional era in rugby there. Michael published The Red and the Black: Glory and Uncertainty at Saracens plc (1999), which documents the two years he spent with the squad, taking in their victory in the Tetley Bitter Cup – the club’s first major trophy in 122 years.
In 2000 Michael became rugby editor of the Observer, where he remains, although his role has since shifted to become a rugby correspondent for both the Observer and its sister newspaper the Guardian.
In 2007, Michael co-hosted an online show for that year’s Rugby World Cup with the former Australian international and Saracens player Michael Lynagh, and he currently hosts the International Rugby Board's magazine show Total Rugby. In 2009 he ghost-wrote Just for Kicks, the autobiography of the former Scotland international and Wasps winger Kenny Logan.
Michael has also written one novel and started another. Neither has a publisher, but he lives in hope.
Bristol University had a knack of coaxing excellence from its students with an enlightened approach that made you want to do things, rather than feel you had to. The other thing that struck me was the calibre of person I met there. And the pubs. All of it has proved crucial for a sportswriter – or a human being, if that’s not quite the same thing.
Michael Aylwin (BSc 1994, MA 1996)