Usually when you read about sports stars who’ve made their way into the professional game having come through University, it’s via Loughborough, or Bath, or Oxbridge. Yet Impact has tracked down one player looking to make it big in the future- Tom George, Nottingham Rugby Club’s No.8.
Tom started playing for the Green and Whites this season, having been invited to join the team in their pre-season training by Nottingham’s captain Craig Hammond, who also coaches the Uni 1st XV. According to Operations Manager and player Ben Thompson, he’s “playing particularly well.” Described as “one for the future” by the official matchday magaine, he has since become a regular fixture on the team, taking part in team training sessions twice a week, as well as matches. Luckily the club have been very supportive of Tom:
“The workload’s been high, but the coaches are really understanding and realise that academic stuff comes first.”
Nevertheless, he has had to make some sacrifices:
“It does restrict the amount I can go out. I’ve not been drinking as much because I’ve not been able to.”
It’s been something of a learning curve for Tom playing in National League Division 1 against the likes of former premiership club Leeds Tykes.
“The games are much faster, and mistakes are punished. Obviously a high level of fitness is needed too.”
But he’s in the right place to succeed in his ambition to play in the top flight against the best sides. Having recently signed a contract to ground-share Meadow Lane with Notts County football club, Nottingham Rugby Club is on the up.
“The facilities are as good as any premiership stadium”, insists George, an opinion reiterated by Ben Thompson, who describes them as “second to none.” Thompson believes it’s only a matter of time before Nottingham are back competing against the big guns, which must be music to Tom’s ears.
“We definitely have the potential,” said the full-back. “In the last year or two we’ve been laying the foundations and now everything’s moving forward. We’re building upon our success and are making a steady progression towards the top flight.”
However, the club didn’t have a great start to the season, winning just one of their first seven games. Recently though, they’ve turned things around with wins against Plymouth Albion and London Welsh.
“There was a really good atmosphere in the Plymouth game,” enthused Tom. It was very tight and the crowd were great.”
The recent narrow 20-24 defeat to Cornish Pirates, who coach Glenn Delaney described as “the best team in the league”, is further proof that the club is moving in the right direction. The increased squad size is further seen as a positive for Delaney.
The new deal with County has already increased the profile of Nottingham, says Ben Thompson:
“It’s been brilliant, attendances are up by 75%. We want to build a good relationship with Notts County and eventually hope to use sponsors jointly.”
Delaney concurs. Following the recent defeat to Cornish Pirates, Delaney was delighted with the turnout. “A”, he commented, “shows ”
The club is also keen to build upon the existing student fanbase, which makes up 8 to 10% of the crowd:
“We want as many students as we can. There’s usually not much going on on a Sunday, and there’s less restrictions at matches than football, which makes it ideal for students to have a few beers and watch some rugby!”
Nottingham Rugby are playing Otley on the 3rd of December at the home of Notts County Football Club, Meadow Lane, and they have a special ticket give away to all Nottingham University students. The game will have a really good student atmosphere and what better way to spend a normally dull Sunday afternoon before term ends. In order to receive your free ticket for the game all you need to do is email your name, address and phone number with the Subject title of Student Ticket Giveaway to [email protected] before the 1st of December.
Adam Harwood and Jenny Smith