So my son’s journey as a player training with a Premiership rugby club is over. The world of sport is of course highly competitive and can be quite harsh.
My son, along with a handful of his school friends and a lot of other local boys, trained with the club for two years. They cut a few boys at the start of the summer and my son made it through the cut. They then assessed the boys over the summer at training and a number of matches, with the aim of cutting around half of them. This is of course not great if you’ve broken your pelvis and are unable to do any sport for three months.
But my son didn’t give up. He went along to the first summer training session and handed in his form along with the other boys. And I felt a little heartbroken for him as he walked away.
Was he wasting his time even filing his form in and handing it in? What chance did he have of making it through when he couldn’t even play? But, on the other hand, how is it fair to get rid of him when he has been unable to play? Couldn’t he go back when he’s fully recovered to be assessed then?
But clearly he couldn’t. I have a feeling that, if he’d been able to play over summer, he would have stood a very good chance of getting through.
The Academy system in Premiership rugby is really impressive. They support boys with their studies, but they train them several times a week in rugby. They get sessions in the gym, they learn about nutrition, they have access to club physios when they’re injured… And every year a few more boys are cut until they get to under 20s and they are full-time Academy players.
My son never wanted to be a Premiership rugby player. But he didn’t want to give up either. He enjoys rugby and would have liked the chance to keep playing with the club for a little bit longer – partly for the glory, but mainly to help his school rugby and to put him in good stead for university rugby.
(In year 7 he went on a trip to Twickenham for the varsity game – Oxford v Cambridge. He would like nothing more than to be playing rugby for Oxford in front of year 7s from his old school.)
So the decision has been taken out of his hands. He doesn’t need to say to them at 18: ‘Actually, I’m going to university, I’m not going to be a professional rugby player’.
It is definitely for the best. But I still feel slightly sad about the bad timing and that he wasn’t even given the chance to show what he could do, due to his injury.
But it will be good for his athletics career and I will write about that separately.