Never Never Give Up

This week’s blog focuses on not giving up on your health & fitness goals. No matter what your goal is, its likely that at some point you will face struggles and tough challenges in your life, however stay strong, focused and determined. As a Personal Trainer I regularly relate to my clients to help encourage them during times of struggle. I felt a little emotional re writing today’s story as it was a real emotional battle for a number of years.
Today’s story relates back to when I started playing Rugby at the tender age of 14 (19 years ago!). As soon as I started playing the game my lifetime goal was to represent England at some point in my rugby career and also to play rugby at Twickenham, a goal shared with most young players at that time.
At age 16 I represented Kent School’s rugby at under 16’s level. Having played well for Kent that year I was invited to the London & South East School’s trials, which was tough but I came through and made the squad. The next step was England Schoolboy trials where the South-East played the Midlands, North and South-West in a weekend tournament from which they would pick the England Under 16 Schoolboy’s team. Sadly during the 1st game I injured my right knee badly and later required cartilage surgery, which was tough to take. The following year I again required cartilage knee surgery, this time on my other knee, as the left knee had taken most of the load post recovery of my right knee.
Once I had recovered fully from my knee injuries, I was in my final school year. I managed to get in the Kent School’s Under 18’s rugby side and once again made the London & South-East School’s team. We had a great team that year with 2 players going on to play rugby with professional contracts (Topsy Ojo & Richard Thorpe).
With no injuries and feeling fit I took part in the England Trials at under 18’s levels. Sadly I didn’t make the England squad, which again was a tough pill to swallow, at which point I started to doubt that I would ever achieve any of my rugby goals.

Next stop Loughborough University, the best sporting University in the UK. I chose to go here mainly for the sport but you’ll be shocked to hear I completed a Computing & Management degree at the same time!
Rugby at Loughborough was huge with substantial interest each year from new students. The first 2 years of rugby Loughborough was tough and I felt didn’t get a proper look in. I played for the University Freshers team in my first year and second year played for the 2nd & 3rd team, which was still a competitive level. I managed to get on the bench for the 1st team for an away game vs Durham during my second year but I didn’t get any time on the pitch that day!

Feeling pretty deflated, after 2 years of University rugby, I came back to Kent for my course sandwich year, working for Kent County Council. This was the year I joined Canterbury Rugby club and where the real changes started to happen. Playing Men’s rugby teaches you many lessons and hardens you up fast! I ended my year at Canterbury playing regularly for the 1st team and I would return later back for a further 7 years playing after my university days.
After my initital year at Canterbury, I went back to Loughborough for my final year’s studies. I had a renewed attitude to rugby plus in addition to better skill set. The university implemented new coaching staff who were very much picking players on week by week performances, which suited me!
What a year this was, I played regularly for the 1st team at Loughborough and also played a game for Northampton Saints Academy at Franklins Gardens. Later on that year I earned myself England University Trials. I gave it my best shot and made it into the squad. I was honoured to play and beat Wales Universities and Scotland Universities scoring tries in both games. For our final game we played against the combined services rugby (Army,RAF,Navy) at guess where? Twickenham!
Ironically the week before this game, I played at Twickenham with Loughborough winning the British Universities Trophy 2016 against Bath University.

So here I am, 9 years later, with my England Universities Rugby shirt playing at Twickenham, both of goals achieved! The fact that I played an absolute shocker that day doesn’t really matter to me now as I was just so happy to be there with my family and friends celebrating the day.
So in conclusion, yes I can relate to what its like to struggle and be consistently be knocked back. However, my advice is keep picking yourself up, keep moving forward, believe and stay determined towards your goals!

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