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Why I love being a Sheffield Vulcan: Chris’s story

With us unable to train at home up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC as a single unit, the Sheffield Vulcans haven’t let the lockdown dampen our team spirit. We’re still working on our fitness by running drills in pods of six around the steel city making sure we’re ready for the upcoming season. So, as we continue training under RFU guidelines, we want to share with you why we love being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans.

That’s why we’ve reached out to a few of our players and asked them to share their story with you about their personal experiences of being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans. We asked them about how they came to know about the club, why they joined the team and what advice they have for individuals interested in playing rugby.

This is Chris Moore’s story…

Chris MooreBrief history lesson – I played from school age until U21s and a few senior games at Durham City Rugby Club, before cutting short my playing days following a couple of bad injuries in quick succession, combined with a move down south to the wonderful city of Sheffield.

Fast forward 20-odd years and I suddenly, weirdly, start getting the itch to play again, around about the time of my 41st birthday. I had gone from having limited interest in the sport, to desperately wanting to be back out there, making those hits and testing myself. I can’t explain why.

That said, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve found myself wondering just why it was that I let rugby drift out of my life like that? I’d gone from playing 2 or 3 times a week for 15 years or whatever it was, to barely engaging with something that had previously meant so much to me.

It’s crossed my mind that it might be because I lost my dad in my early 20’s, not that long after I moved down here. Rugby was our thing. We used to go to watch Newcastle Falcons together when we had this young 16-year-old kid called Jonny Wilkinson on the bench, who apparently was going to make it big, according to whispers around Kingston Park.

So, it has occurred to me recently that it might have been because of that missing element. That gap in proceedings. We couldn’t watch games together or discuss them on the phone anymore. I think I’d just fallen out of love with the game and it wasn’t even a conscious decision I was aware of at the time. That’s just one possible theory, anyway.

Not that it was just my dad who was bang into it. My mam once ran onto the pitch to rescue one of my team mates, who she spotted getting kneed in the face at the bottom of a ruck.

“He’s not even your son!” they shouted.

“They’re ALL my boys” she replied, as the ref showed her the red card. She got a special award at the end of season for that – the first and only spectator to get sent off!

Anyway, the Vulcans. Thanks to the dubious wonders of facebook’s targeted advertising, I’d seen an advert for a rugby team that accepted you regardless of age, experience, ability, fitness levels, or orientation. Perfect!

I got in touch and went along, but it was WAY different to what I was used to. I found a bunch of guys in Endcliffe Park, knocking about under a temporary flood light. I mean, great lads and I really enjoyed it, but it was not the normal club set up I was accustomed to. I’ll come back to that later though.

Somewhere between making the initial enquiry and turning up to training, it occurred to me that this was a “gay” rugby club. I mean, it’s not, we’re an inclusive team open to everyone, so I got that bit wrong for a start.

Chris MooreBut it had never even crossed my mind, to be honest, even though the advert did indeed mention orientation. I’d followed Vulcans on Instagram and kept seeing #IGR – I wondered what the hell is IGR?

Oh, it’s International Gay Rugby.

I have to be honest and say there were questions.

“What will my friends think?”

“Will it be proper rugby?”

“Will I fit in, or even be welcome?”

Well that all turned out to be a load of bollocks. I took the plunge and soon realised this was the best decision I’ve ever made. Sheffield Vulcans changed my life.

So, let’s get this cleared up. If you’re a straight guy worrying about joining an inclusive IGR team, then worry not. I belong to a club that plays rugby for the love of the sport. No initiation ceremonies or ‘hazing’, none of that toxic masculinity that can unfortunately be prevalent in a lot of ‘mainstream’ or university clubs. It’s rugby without all the stereotypical nonsense that can unfortunately give rugby players a bad name.

We’re just here to grow and improve together. We are brothers. Actually, we’re sisters too. We’re whatever. It doesn’t matter. Sheffield Vulcans has made me a better person; not that it’s changed my beliefs as such, but it’s given me a better understanding of the world and the array of humans that inhabit it.

And as for the rugby itself, let me tell you “gay rugby”, to borrow a phrase from a certain local magazine editor, is still bloody brutal when you cross that white line. It still hurts. It still feels just as good though. It’s no different, actually. And it doesn’t matter how old you get, you still kinda enjoy collecting cool scars and comparing bruises.

Looking back on those early days in the park, despite my reservations about the set-up, it was clear to me that there was a lot of potential there. There were new players who’d barely touched a rugby ball before, who I could tell had it in them to be very handy on the pitch. This could be a great team. There was a collective energy and enthusiasm that told me there was more to come from this lot, but the lack of facilities was frustrating.

Having said that, the club didn’t even exist until a few years ago, so I’ve nothing but respect and admiration for those founding members who’d got it off the ground, with kits, sponsors and so on. To build a rugby club from scratch is some achievement and we should never take that for granted; we’re forever in their debt. But there was an increasing groundswell of opinion amongst more experienced members that we could push on to be bigger and better.

And that’s where Sheffield Tigers come into the picture. Without boring you with the details, Sheffield’s premiere rugby club has taken us under their wing (paw?) and forged a partnership with the Vulcans to see us ground-share with them up at Dore Moor.

It’s early days yet, annoyingly put on pause by COVID-19 recently, but already the huge improvement in facilities has led to both tangible results on the pitch, as well a positive mood-shift with the group towards feeling like this really is the start of us reaching our full potential. We ARE a proper club and we belong here. We’ve earnt it.

We’ve just had our most successful season ever, undefeated at home with some big numbers on the scoreboard, plus an ever-so-tense first away win in London. We were confident enough to enter ourselves into the top tier of a recent tournament, pitting ourselves against the big guns in IGR, despite technically still being a ‘development team’. We could have gone into the lower tier and had a genuine shot at some silverware, but nah. Fortune favours the brave!

Sheffield Vulcans is team that is going somewhere and I’m very excited about what the future holds. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for and hope I can serve the club well, by putting back into the team as much as it’s given me.

Chris’s advice for individuals wanting to play rugby:

If you’re thinking of trying something new, or like me want to rekindle an old flame, then we’d absolutely love to welcome you along for the ride. Just bring snacks, yeah?

We’d like to thank Chris for sharing his story.

If you want to know more about the Sheffield Vulcans or you are interested in joining us at our next available training session you can join our Facebook group here or you can click here to register as a Vulcan.

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Why I love being a Sheffield Vulcan: Jon’s Story

With us unable to train at home up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC as a single unit, the Sheffield Vulcans haven’t let the lockdown dampen our team spirit. We’re still working on our fitness by running drills in pods of six around the steel city making sure we’re ready for the upcoming season. So, as we continue training under RFU guidelines, we want to share with you why we love being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans.

That’s why we’ve reached out to a few of our players and asked them to share their story with you about their personal experiences of being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans. We asked them about how they came to know about the club, why they joined the team and what advice they have for individuals interested in playing rugby.

This is Jon Dickinson’s story…

Jon DickinsonI’ve never been one for sports but after clocking in at almost thirty stone at my heaviest, I have been on a fitness journey over the last two years in pursuit of mental and physical well-being. It began when my GP decided to check my HbA1c levels after experiencing a number of symptoms such as low energy levels and an increased thirst. So If you know what that means you can probably guess where this is going…

After being called back to receive my results it was confirmed that my blood glucose level was dangerously high. Although it wasn’t enough to be considered Diabetic, I was diagnosed as Pre-Diabetic and at a high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. I was basically told that if I didn’t immediately change the path I was on then things will only get worse and that’s when my GP went into a tirade of what could happen to my body. It was at that moment that the fear of god was put into me and from that day that I vowed to make a change. A change that would set me on to a new and exciting adventure.

So, with the days of spending hours on end watching films behind me, I used NHS resources to build a healthier relationship with food and forced myself to become more active by walking long distances twice a week. I even booked a holiday to Florida to keep me focused on losing weight because I knew the fear of doing the walk of shame after not being able to fit on the rides would be enough to keep my urges to binge in check. That said, it’s easier said than done but I was determined to do everything within my power to reverse the diagnosis and after 9 months of continual hard work and dedication, I was successful.

Having improved my overall fitness, shifting six stone in weight and reversing my Pre-Diabetic diagnosis, I was looking for a new way to keep fit and that’s when I discovered the Vulcans. I saw a post on Facebook promoting the Sheffield Vulcan’s after pride party. Unaware of who the Vulcans were prior to that I checked out their page to discover they were a local inclusive rugby team and that a few members team were hosting a stall at Sheffield Pride. It was a shame that the event was completely rained out. As I was making my way to the park I full on decked it after slipping in the mud and I didn’t want that to be my first impression so to save myself embarrassment I returned home feeling incredibly red-faced.

That night I decided to attend the Vulcan’s After Pride party on my own. It was at that point that I saw an old work colleague of mine and she introduced me to her fiancé Michael Callaghan and he was the first Vulcan I spoke to. He introduced me to Craig Waterhouse and they took the time to listen and answer my questions. I explained my concerns on never playing any sports previously and was assured that as an IGR team the Vulcans were a very supportive team and they’d love to see me attend training and that started my journey.

I’ll always remember my first training session with the Vulcans. I knew that unless I applied myself 100% I was not going to commit so I invested in a full Rugby kit and set off to join the first welcome session at Endcliffe Park. It was at that moment that the heavens opened and it rained so hard that I actually thought training wouldn’t take place. Nonetheless I persevered to Endcliffe with the idea that if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go back. I was the first to arrive so I changed into my new rugby boots and waited patiently. One by one the team begun to arrive and that’s when I took my first steps onto the field.

I remember having enjoyed the first welcoming session. Sure, I felt out of my depth but there was no denying how much I was made to feel welcome. In fact, during that session, fellow Vulcans Chris Moore and Richard Mather took me under their wing and took time to explain what was happening play-by-play and it was because of this that I attended the second training session taking a couple of days later. My first week was rounded off with my first team social and my future with the Vulcans was set in stone.

I have come a long way thanks to my fellow Vulcan brothers. I’ve played several games and fallen in love with a sport that’s right for me. I have even been fortunate to be awarded Forward of the Match in my debut game against Hull Roundheads and I have recently joined the Sheffield Vulcan committee where I am responsible for the club’s social media platforms. So, if you had told me two years ago that this is where I was going to be today, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Sheffield Vulcans 2019

Jon’s advice for individuals wanting to play rugby:

Playing Rugby Union has given me the confidence to believe in myself and value my own ability. Sure, it was scary to join a group of talented amateur rugby players but the benefits outweighed the fear in every category. Joining the Vulcans has not only improved my fitness levels but it has changed me forever. Without sounding too dramatic joining the Sheffield Vulcans has saved my life. So if you want my advice I urge anyone who has even the smallest interest in playing the sport to try it (pun intended). I did and have never looked back.

If you want to know more about the Sheffield Vulcans or you are interested in joining us at our next available training session you can join our Facebook group here or you can click here to register as a Vulcan.

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Why I love being a Sheffield Vulcan: Andrew’s Story

With us unable to train at home up at Sheffield Tigers RUFC as a single unit, the Sheffield Vulcans haven’t let the lockdown dampen our team spirit. We’re still working on our fitness by running drills in pods of six around the steel city making sure we’re ready for the upcoming season. So, as we continue training under RFU guidelines, we want to share with you why we love being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans.

That’s why we’ve reached out to a few of our players and asked them to share their story with you about their personal experiences of being a member of the Sheffield Vulcans. We asked them about how they came to know about the club, why they joined the team and what advice they have for individuals interested in playing rugby.

This is Andrew Gibson’s story…

Andrew Gibson

I  hadn’t ever considered that rugby could be a sport for me; I’m not in any way athletic and did not enjoy PE or sport when I was at school.  After discovering the Vulcans through social media, I popped along to a training session with a friend who was wanting to join and after spending a few weeks of watching from the edge of the field, I thought I could give it a go so I did. Talking to the Chairperson at the time, he persuaded me to give it a try (pun?), but I waited a few months until the end of July when the “Welcome Week” sessions were being run.

I was nervous to start, I felt like I was always falling over my own shadow all the time, but working with the team had a very surprising effect. Not only did it improve my physical abilities proving to myself I could do more than I suspected but it has improved my confidence as well as my mental health which is just as important to me.

Everyone on the team is extremely supportive, and they are now like an extended family. If you struggle with a skill, you can always approach one of the more experienced players and they will help you improve, breaking it down in a way that you understand.

Initially, I was only going to join for non-contact rugby, but as I have gone along I have found the confidence to play full games too. Joining the Vulcans has most definitely changed my life and my outlook on sports.

Recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the team have all rallied around each other, and aside from our online quiz nights, we are all there on the other end of the phone for each other, whether it be for a chat or to offer support, even to pop to the supermarket if we were isolating!

Andrew’s advice for individuals wanting to play rugby:

Don’t feel pressured into it if you’re new, take it at your own pace. That’s what the Vulcans did for me and that’s why I am still a member today.

We’d like to thank Andrew for his time and for sharing his story.

If you want to know more about the Sheffield Vulcans or you are interested in joining us at our next available training session you can join our Facebook group here or you can click here to register as a Vulcan.