I made the move to Woolwich Arsenal in 2015, and landed a flat overlooking a small patch of park on Wellington Way.
I still loved the game of rugby, I would watch the six nations religiously, and in the pub on a Saturday afternoon I would tell people the immortal lines ‘ I used to play you know, I was a pretty decent player back in the day, id love to get back into it one day.’
This was always said with the nagging knowledge in the back of my head that in all probability, I would never play the game I loved again. How could I turn up to a club having not played for years? Did I still have the appetite?
On a Sunday morning before work, sipping a coffee and looking out at the patch of park, I looked out and saw 8 people throwing around a rugby ball. It didn’t look serious, everyone looked to be having a great time, laughing and joking. This took me back to my playing days, getting filthy on a Sunday morning, and the comradery and the friends I had made in my late teens.
Maybe I could get a game? I thought. However, how do you approach a group of people you don’t know, especially in notoriously unfriendly south London, and ask for a game. Fuck it, ill just ask the question.
The reality is I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse, friendly and welcoming group of people, and within the next 2 weeks the group of random men and women throwing a rugby ball around in the park became firm friends, sharing drinks and breakfasts. It reminded me that on a rugby pitch there are no jobs, no social class, no gender…….. just players.
But although the social side of the game was great, more importantly, I had a rugby ball in my hands again.
I had the buzz of playing the team sport that I had longed to play since I gave up playing in my late teens, throwing the ball around, getting my competitive edge back.
After a number of weeks my confidence grew to join a local team, and I played my first game of contact rugby in over 5 years. I wasn’t the player of old, but my hands were safe, my rugby brain was engaged and I gave a decent account of myself. Would I have seriously considered stepping into a competitive game if I had not been playing tag rugby? Absolutely not.
Fast forward to January 2020.
I have long since moved from London, back to the homeland of the midlands.
One thing from my time in London has stayed with me more than any other. The love of the game.
As I sit and write this I am nursing a black eye, a stray stud from last weekends game. This will be my third season at the rugby club, and a third season of first team rugby, this season pushing for promotion in the midlands leagues.
Rugby is a massive part of my life today, it is my fitness, my social life, my release from a stressful job.
Would I be in this position now without the men and women of the Royal Arsenal Tag Rugby team reigniting my passion for the sport?
Definitely not x
Adi Buxton – Always A Welcome Member (Royal Arsenal Rugby)
FROM THE ARCHIVES
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