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Rugby at Trinity: a winning combination

Rugby at Trinity is thriving thanks to what promises to be a winning combination: professional coaching by a Porter, support from a Fellow and former rugby player, and a great team spirit.

After a full programme of fixtures against other Colleges last year, Trinity College Rugby Union Football Club (TCRUFC) was promoted to the top division and this year the team hopes to compete for a new league trophy.

Vice Captain Max Grant and Captain Henry King in their club’s spangled kit

Players have varied experiences of the game and the club welcomes anyone wanting to give it a go. As well as regular training at Old Field, professional coaching and a series of fixtures, there is a great camaraderie on and off the pitch, says Captain Henry King. The theology student said:

For as long as I remember rugby has been the part of the week where for a few hours nothing other than the players around you and the opposition in front of you mattered.

So long as you have a Trinity badge on your shirt, for those two hours, you’re my closest friend in the world. For the Trinity College Rugby Union Football Club however, those friendship have solidified themselves off the pitch too.

Harry Devlin. Photo: Jack Orton

For English student Harry Devlin, joining the Club changed his student experience.

‘I’d tried the sport before, but I was no professional. However, College rugby has reignited my passion for working hard. It is a melting pot of people from different backgrounds, but none of that mattered: we are a team – and a team which offered so much patience, understanding and support.’

Professor Colin Hughes, Senior Treasurer of the Club. Photo: Graham CopeKoga

Trinity Fellow Professor Colin Hughes recalled the invitation to get involved from former Captain Owain Cooke, who graduated this summer.

‘Owain discovered I’m Welsh, like him, and go to watch the Wales rugby team play in Cardiff. That was enough for him in the way of qualifications. Now I’m Club Senior Treasurer and try to help the Club improve within the University so everyone gets to enjoy themselves’.

Having watched a few games and attended club events, including the AGM and the annual dinner, Professor Hughes was struck by the team’s ‘humorous camaraderie off the field and their vigorous play on it.’

The latter had been greatly improved by the ‘patient and expert coaching’ of Senior Porter Alex Skingley, Professor Hughes said. Qualified as a coach by the Rugby Football Union, Mr Skingley has coached the Colts locally and before that the team of the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corp while serving in the British Army for 16 years.

Mr Alex Skingley, Coach. Photo: Graham CopeKoga

‘When it comes to all things rugby I can’t resist,’ says Mr Skingley. ‘Rugby is a great leveller, a brilliant way of releasing built-up tension and stress and a game for everyone who is wanting to give it a TRY and build friendships for life.’

Alumnus James Hughes, who played in last season’s Old Boys match, said rugby had been ‘a welcome respite’ from the pressures of studying. ‘Winning the boot final [fourth division] remains a personal highlight of my time in College.’

Professor Hughes said the introduction of proper coaching was key.

‘It is something most other Colleges don’t have, a proper coach who is committed to improving everyone’s game. It makes everything safer and more enjoyable.’

‘I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in the game to go along to a coaching session.’

Contact Captain Henry King – / 07769532320 – to find out more about playing rugby at Trinity.

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