It is hard to believe it is four years since I last wrote a blog about the Rugby World Cup for the Worksop Guardian.
I am about to go into my fifth RWC as a senior physiotherapist with the England Rugby Team – and I can honestly say I am as excited about this one as all the others – including 2003 when we became world champions.
The team I am working with now are young talented, fit and strong and have worked tremendously hard over the last four months to put themselves in a position to do well in this tournament.
The RWC is special but on home soil means so much more – it won’t be for the lack of effort and commitment if this group of players doesn’t go all the way.
I am a very proud Worksop man, having been educated at Redlands County Primary School and then Valley Comprehensive School.
Both schools encouraged my love of all sports and a particular passion for Rugby Football.
I joined Worksop Rugby Football Club as a young colt at 14 where I continued my rugby education playing and developing my game under their wings until I was fortunate to go onto play for Northampton Saints.
I can honestly say that without all the time and effort, encouragement and support from my teachers, coaches, team mates, family and friends in Worksop I would never be in the privileged position I am now.
I love coming back “up home” and have stayed connected with these people back home – and in that is a connection between Worksop and the England rugby team.
My role at present is senior physiotherapist within a Performance Team comprising strength and conditioners, medics, sports scientists and performance analysts.
Attention to detail is massive but the aim is to provide the coaches with a squad of fit and healthy players – and as Stuart Lancaster has requested – the ‘fittest team in world rugby’ prior to this competition.
We started with a squad of 51 but had to cut this down a couple of weeks ago to the allowed squad size of 31.
This means that all training has been competitive as players were literally training for their places in the team.
We have just finished training camp which has included some brutal strength and conditioning, a trip to Denver, Colorado, for altitude training and time with the Denver Bronchos NFL team and warm up games against France and Ireland to hone in the playing skills.
We are now all set for the first game against Fiji, the RWC 2015 opening game - at Twickenham on Friday night – and we are ready to go.
We are in the so called ‘group of death’ as only two teams progress into the knockout stages of the RWC and we also have Wales and Australia in our group – one of those teams is going home early – not us.
Each player in this current England squad has come from grassroots rugby and has an allegiance to his own town rugby club.
This England team, under the direction of head coach, Stuart Lancaster, has made every effort to stay connected with these roots and stay connected to the English public at large.
I know that so many people watch the England team play back home and I have been known to call the Worksop Rugby Club after matches from the dressing room or sometimes from the middle of the pitch just before big international game.
I have been on a fantastic journey that started when I was a sports mad kid back in Worksop, playing each weekend for my local team with my mates.
I am hoping the next stop will be the RWC final on 31st October at Twickenham this year - and a second winners medal on display in the clubhouse on Stubbing Lane
I can only encourage any of you younger, or older, sportsman who may have read this to get down to Worksop Rugby Club and give it a go.
It is a great place to make friends for life – just contact Worksop Rugby Football Club youth section chairman Justin Poxon on 07582 364101.