Tom is taking part in the Rugby Academy programme in Brisbane. Here he tell us all about his experiences so far...
My name’s Tom and I’m 19 years old, currently living in Brisbane, Australia, where I am attending the Rugby Academy at the University of Queensland (UQ) and playing for UQRFC. Now as you can probably guess, I’m sports mad, and you’d be hard pushed to find a sport that I a) don’t like or b) at least haven’t attempted to watch on SkySports as a way of avoiding any other jobs or work that I’m meant to be doing. However, I thought that once a week I’d take some time out from egg chasing to write a few words on my time so far in Australia, and all the amazing opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to experience.
So firstly, a little bit about me.
After finishing my A levels in June 2015, I decided that I wanted to do a gap year, but that I really wanted to do something that would allow me to combine my love of rugby with traveling. I researched the options out there and after contacting Ian Dodd at SportLived decided that their programme offered me exactly what I was looking for - 6 months in Australia attending the University of Queensland (UQ) Rugby Academy and playing rugby for UQ RFC. Combining sun, sea and sand with 6 days a week of rugby seemed almost too good to be true – luckily it wasn’t. Being a typical 18 year old boy at the time, aka someone who could hardly plan what they were doing in the next 20 minutes let alone the next year of their life, planning a move to Australia was certainly not going to be an easy task. Luckily, because I’d enrolled on the programme, SportLived helped me take care of all the necessary arrangements, from visas, registration with Australian Rugby, advice on what to pack and what to expect in Australia.
On 13th February 2016, I said goodbye to my family at Heathrow and embarked on what has been the best six months of my life so far. I travelled to Brisbane via Dubai, then Sydney and 26 hours later was met at Brisbane airport by my John, my SportLived mentor. Before leaving the UK, SportLived had already organised my accommodation and introduced me to my room mates, so within an hour or so of arriving in Australia, I was safely in my apartment and getting to know my new friends. Once we’d settled in and recovered from the journey, John helped us sort out essentials like setting up an Australian bank account, getting an Aussie SIM card, getting our Go Cards for travelling on Queensland buses and trains, and generally helping us find our feet. The following morning we were up nice and early and on the bus to UQ ready for our first session at the UQ Rugby Academy.
I’m now 6 months into the UQ Rugby Academy programme, and absolutely loving it. Not only has it provided me with a structured sporting development programme encompassing all aspects of player development, but regular gym sessions each week have allowed me to improve my overall strength and conditioning meaning I’m now capable of playing at a higher intensity for a longer duration. Club training and regular skills sessions have allowed me to focus on key areas of my game which are essential to my position such as passing and kicking. The regular gym and skills sessions have helped my game hugely and have seen me move from colts 2 all the way up to premier colts. The UQ rugby academy has provided me with the opportunity to train like a professional athlete, the ability to train in world class facilities and with top coaches will allow you to take your game to the next level. I‘m absolutely loving my time in Australia, and I have the Sport Lived programme to thank for that. It has made my move to Australia easy and enjoyable, and I would recommend it anyone interested in improving their game to enrol in the UQ rugby academy, as it will show you the commitment and discipline needed to train in a professional structured sporting environment. In my next blog post I hope to give you guys an insight into my typical day, including schedules, training sessions, meal times and of course the all important social side!
If you're interested in taking part in a Rugby programme, or would like more information on any of our coaching or playing programmes, we'd love to hear from you! Get in touch at 0115 822 9999 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.