Last weekend, E4R Director Tom May, laced up his pearly white boots in a one-off performance for his former club, London Welsh.
It was a winning return for Tom, as his London Welsh side emerged victorious against E4R Club Partner, Staines RFC, with Tom even crossing for a try – so, all in all, it was somewhat of a fairytale return.
When we published the article announcing Tom’s decision to play, we received a number of positive comments, with many wondering Why he had decided to accept the invitation...
Well, of course, there's the reason of Tom being a former player and dutifully wanting to give something back to both the club and the grassroots game. However, if you're interested in some of the personal reasons then scroll down!
Missed the Buzz of the Game
The first reason was simple; Tom missed the buzz that rugby brings to him. After a 17-year professional career playing a sport he loves, it can’t be easy to simply switch off and begin leading a ‘mortal’ life.
Thus, an opportunity to experience those pre-match nerves again, and give it your ball-busting all (which included a 60m support run) for 80 minutes must have been too hard to turn down.
It was Nice to Feel part of a Team Again
Once again, withdrawal symptoms come into play. After being involved in a team sport where you’re all chasing one goal, and in the fight together, to have that taken away in a sporting capacity must be a little strange.
Taking to the field was a great way for Tom to once again feel that unique, rugby team spirit and All for One, One for All attitude. It’s a feature that exists in 99% of rugby clubs throughout the country.
Apart from getting flattened by the opposition's No.8 (by Tom’s own admission may I add) another reason he jumped at the chance to grace the field was the contact element. There’s nothing more fun than a bit of on-field rough and tumble, just look at James Haskell and Joe Marler at the weekend.
The great thing about rugby is that all the aggression and animosity is left out on the field, and afterwards everyone can socialise together. Which brings us on to…
Regardless of whether you win or lose, the great thing about rugby is there will always be a cold pint waiting for you at the bar (unless it's your round) after a match.
Tom said that this aspect is much better within rugby’s grassroots than at a pro level, as there’s no drug-testing or press dealings; it’s just simply a quick shower and a pint (which goes down like a home-sick mole).
Relatively Fresh the Next Day
Before I go into this point, allow me to say that Tom was a broken man after his recent match; however he did complete a 5k park run and a 3-hour watt bike session prior to the match, so we'll let him off. Anyway, Tom said that it was nice to play a game of rugby for the sheer fun of it, and enjoy taking a few hits due to the tackles not going in from 100kg+ bruisers.
Of course, rugby is a physical sport and you may take a couple of knocks on a grassroots rugby field but it's not played at the same intensity, so your body isn't usually in a state where you're sofa-bound. (if you are always like this on a Sunday, I think you should look into some kind of recovery session...pronto).
Although Tom is still extremely active, it’s always great to mix up how you exercise. How boring is it running on a treadmill? Or having your backside stuck to a spin bike for 3 hours (Tom is currently training for a 24hr Watt Bike challenge…)? So, given the opportunity to run around for 80 minutes and get some fresh air cardio in, he took it!
It's really great to see the likes of Tom and Carl giving something back to the amateur game and willingly turning out for grassroots clubs on the odd occasion; it's what the sport is all about, fun and a positive team spirit! We'll keep you updated on whether we're likely to see Tom back on the pitch before the end of the season!