Turns Out, Rugby Is The Sport For Me – Voice of a New Player

“I’ve Never Played Rugby Before. Sports Just Aren’t For Me.” That’s what Matt Buckingham thought before he joined Sheffield Vulcans. Read more about Matt’s first few weeks of being part of Sheffield’s inclusive Rugby club and how it’s changed his mind about team sports and given him new confidence and opportunities.

My Turbulent Relationship with Health & Fitness

I have never been a big sport lover, football bores me and golf shouldn’t even count as a sport. However, having been born in Wales meant that Rugby was a huge thing in our house and it was a sport I actually liked. My earliest memories are of me, sat in a pram while my dad played Rugby for a mens team and my mum played for a women’s team. My school days were spent with me hating exercise and actively avoiding any form of it.

When I was 21 I was on holiday in Orlando Florida. I was at Universal and went on the Incredible Hulk ride. I pulled the bar down but it wouldn’t click. I breathed in and managed to get it to click once but needless to say I didn’t enjoy the ride. I was mortified. If I carried on gaining weight I would very quickly be in a position where I couldn’t enjoy theme parks and that was not okay with me. I got back to the UK and the diet started immediately. I joined a gym, got myself a personal trainer, and managed to drop down to 17st . Then life got in the way, as it often does, and the gym fell by the wayside.

During my fitness journey I saw that the Sheffield Vulcans had formed and I was interested in joining. But I kept making excuses for myself as to why I wasn’t going to training. “I’m not fit enough yet” “I don’t know anything about Rugby” “It’s for people younger than me.” Looking back, that was a lot of my own insecurities talking. I had confidence issues, I was in a less than happy relationship and, in all honesty, eating my feelings.

Discovering The Vulcans

Earlier this year, my relationship came to an end, knocking my confidence even more. Since I had stopped going to the gym I had creeped back up to 19st and I decided it was time for me to do something about it. Then came the Vulcans. I met the team at Pride in Sheffield and got talking to a few of them. I was invited along to the Welcome Week to give Rugby a ‘try’ and my knee jerk response was that I wasn’t fit enough for that yet. They wouldn’t take no for an answer and gave me a host of reasons to come, that actually put my mind at ease. The team has a wide range of different players and so I decided to give it a go.

I emailed the Recruitment Officer, Liam, who happily answered all my questions without any problem. As the Sheffield Vulcans offers your first four sessions for free, there was no obligation to sign up if it turned out it wasn’t for me. It finally came to the first session, It was raining and I considered going home rather than to the first training session because of the rain. I am glad I didn’t. I turned up, not knowing what to expect and had a whole host of worries. It’s something that’s natural, we are all human. But the first thing I noticed was that the team were all really friendly. Everyone took time to introduce themselves, asked my name and took an interest in me. They made me feel included.

Training Coordinator Chris and Head Coach Andrea put us through a game of touch Rugby and some of the basics of Rugby. Pretty soon the training session had come to an end and it had flown by. I was amazed at what I had achieved. I had actually done some form of Cardio without wanting to sack it off and visit the pub. I made the decision that night to sign up, I didn’t need the other three sessions to tell me that the Sheffield Vulcans was something I wanted to be a part of.

Finding My Tribe 

I continued to go to training, learning a more and more each week eventually progressing onto contact and discovering what position I am best suited for. In the few short weeks that I have been playing I have already seen a decline in my weight, I am fitter, and can do more of the dreaded cardio. A lot of people are afraid of contact in Rugby, but they really shouldn’t. The entire team and coaches teach you all the correct techniques so that you don’t get hurt. They also give you invaluable tips and pointers as you go along. My confidence has sky rocketed in just a few short weeks.

The Vulcans are an inclusive Rugby team, and honestly they mean that. It doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, bi, old, young, fit, unfit, there is no judgement and the team is diverse within all of that and more. I often say that in life you have to find your tribe, a group of people who are like you. Well, in the Vulcans I have found my tribe and friends for life. If you are thinking about joining the Vulcans I would highly recommend it. So from one new player to another… here are a few tips for you:

1) Turn up, rain or shine – You will come to love the rain in Rugby and I promise you won’t regret it.

2) Get involved – I found that getting involved helped me learn the game and build my own confidence.

3) Ask questions – There is no such thing as a stupid question and by asking questions you learn more. 

4) Don’t worry about remembering peoples names – It has taken me a while and I still don’t remember everyone’s names.

5) The most important thing is to have fun!

Got further questions? Want to join? Send an email to or get in touch via social media.