Rugby has always been a big part of my life. My dad was a great player in his day, and so growing up it was always there. Rugby Special was sacred viewing on Sunday afternoons and Dad and I were constantly passing a ball between us both inside and outside the house.
When I started playing mini rugby at 8 years old, the whole family became involved in Doncaster RUFC. Dad began to coach and Mum was either in the kitchen or behind the bar.
By the time I was playing U16’s my dad was our coach and we were winning every tournament in sight.
That’s me below, stood, second from right wearing the shortest shorts you’ll ever see.
I played back row then (either I was tall for my cohort or the rest of the pack were short!) with No.8 being my favoured position. I was also playing for my school, and had attracted interest from county scouts.Unfortunately, my aspirations of playing for Leicester Tigers were cut short when one day at school I broke my arm very badly in a PE lesson. I never did find out if I’d made the cut for Yorkshire Schools. I didn’t really want to.
When I moved away to University I played a bit (albeit with a protector on my arm) but it wasn’t the same, especially as I was a forward!
In later years I played for a couple of Veterans’ sides (by this time I had decided I was a winger). This was OK, but getting tackled was hurting more and I hung up my boots – my team sports now only taking place in the summer and involving a much smaller ball.
So my rugby experience now consisted of watching from the armchair and following the Tigers from afar. I never thought I would be playing again!
I happened to see on Rob Morgan’s timeline that he had become involved with the Royal Arsenal Rugby Club(RARC). They had an established Tag Rugby Team,I knew about, having coached the school team when I was still a classroom primary teacher (They were pretty good too, and reached the Kent finals on more than one occasion!) but I didn’t know adults played it.
I asked Robert what it was all about, and decided to go along with him one Sunday and see for myself.
I’m so glad I did! The Royal Arsenal Tag Rugby Club is full of great people of all ages and abilities. I was welcomed with open arms on a rainy Sunday in February and I became hooked.
Tag Rugby is a great game. It’s fast and free-flowing, and a true team sport. For someone like me who wants to have a run out, keep their rugby skills sharp, develop new ones and doesn’t want to get knocked around (it really does hurt more as you get older!) it’s a perfect game.
Contribution by Member/Player Stuart Swann for RARC