I love rugby. I think it’s the sporting equivalent of going to war for a day…at least, that’s how seriously I take it!! The ultimate team game; every member of the team has specific roles and responsibilities and are utterly dependent on each other. Players put their bodies on the line in every tackle, every scrum and every opportunity in order get the win. There’s a sublime ferocity coupled with an inspiring sense of honesty and sportsmanship that I’ve never witnessed in other sports – it grips me!
I remember how much I learnt in the few years that I spent as a young teen playing at Bracknell R.F.C. I progressed from the lock, deep inside the scrum through the centres and eventually to the wing, gaining invaluable experience of what it means to carry responsibilities, support your team mates and give your all regardless of fatigue. I learnt the value of putting the collective team above yourself and how to push yourself to the limits. I used to watch friends of mine within the team show the kind of leadership that I was in awe of and the show the kind of discipline that I just couldn’t fathom. So many names come to mind but there was one guy in particular who inspired me the most.
He wasn’t the tallest guy around at the time (don’t forget we were only 13/14), but had spades of discipline. You could always depend on him to play well and would always be pushing himself way after everyone else gave up. He could tackle as hard as anyone else, he could kick and he was fast. All I had was speed when I was at the club and granted, I used to score tries but it was purely on the back of the efforts of guys like this…and he still scored more than me! I was simply the glory-boy, which I always felt guilty about. But the lessons I learnt from him, along with the rest of the team, have stuck with me all the way through to now, a decade later. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about watching England play rugby; it serves as a reminder of the crucial time at Bracknell that massively shaped me into the person that I am today. I want to put everything on the line to get the ‘win’ in whatever area I’m in. If international rugby players can do it physically, week in and week out, surely I can do it mentally!