You are currently playing for one of the biggest and most successful teams in Europe, can you describe the journey to get there?
I first started playing rugby for my local club Malton and Norton RUFC at about 10 years old. From there I went through the county system to eventually playing for England at U18’s, U20’s level. I didn’t plan to play rugby professionally it was more a natural progression from one level of rugby to the next. I signed an academy contract with Leeds Tykes in my final year of school and went on to play for Leeds A team for 2 years before signing my first professional contract with Leeds Tykes. I played for Leeds Tykes now Yorkshire Carnegie for 4 years during this time I had interest from several premiership clubs but I had no real desire to play anywhere else other than Leeds. Even though we were struggling in the Aviva premiership I was getting regular game time which was perfect for me still in the early stages of development. However, when Leinster sent me an offer I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play for one of the European Rugby giants. Leeds had also been relegated the season before to the Championship so I thought a move like this couldn’t have come at a better time.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt on the journey?
I would say that my biggest lesson I have learnt in rugby is that skill can only get you so far. When you reach a certain level everyone has talent. Its the people that are willing to work that extra bit harder and make the sacrifices that end up making the most out of their career.
I’ve also learnt that it’s not always going to work out the way you planned. Like every athlete I’ve suffered setbacks whether that’s non-selection, injuries and dips in form. What I found that helped me get through these difficult times is to try and look at the bigger picture. It’s easy to start thinking that rugby is the most important thing in the world but the reality is it really isn’t. I have always tried to make sure I have enough things to focus on outside of rugby to help get me though the difficult times in my career.
How do you define success?
I would define success as repeatedly reaching my goals both long term and short term. For me it’s important to set monthly goals and yearly goals as it helps me get the feeling of success when I achieve them whether that’s at the end of the month or at the end of the year.
What does a typical day look like in terms of training & diet
Most days would follow this type of structure
8 am Breakfast at the club (4 poached eggs , 3 rashers bacon, mushrooms, spinach, out flour pancakes)
9 am Switch on and stretch getting the body ready to perform
10 am Team meeting where we would review the game or preview the opposition
11 am Strength and conditioning
12pm Lunch this is usually a high protein meal with complex carbohydrates e.g ( Stuffed chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, feta salad)
1pm Strapping and rehab
2pm Rugby training (handling drills, skills blocks tackle tech etc. run though plays, unit split forwards scrums and lineouts backs practice launch off set piece)
4pm Recovery shake and Ice baths
5pm Meal of high carbs and protein (beef steak and brown rice with roasted veg cous cous)
You’ve started a site called beingrugby, what was the aim and how would you like to see it develop?
The idea is to create an exclusive online source to help young rugby players maximise their rugby potential by improving their rugby skills, fitness and health. It is a not for profit organisation created by current professional rugby players. The profits generated will be put back into grass roots rugby to help develop the next generation of future rugby stars.
We will give the user an insight into the life of a professional rugby player through written articles and various media content, users are able to learn the secrets to success from elite athletes. The original content offers an open and honest look behind the scenes of all areas of professional rugby both on and off the pitch. The articles and features will be created by male and female professional, semi-professional and amateur rugby players (schools rugby player) covering all levels of rugby union.
What advice would you have for others wanting to play their sport professionally?
I would say go for it. Set yourself that goal of playing professional sport and make a plan of how your going to achieve it. Find people that will help and support you on your journey. Having a strong support system around you will help drive you to were you want to go. There’s no secret answers or quick fixes to making it as a pro. It’s something you’ve already heard before but it’s true hard work and dedication will get you a long way to achieving your dream of playing professional sport. The last thing I would say is enjoy your journey. Regularly remind yourself why you first starting playing your sport because it’s very easy to forgot this when money becomes involved.
Favourite meal? Beef Sunday roast with Yorskhire pudds and lots of gravy
Favourite lift (and any PRs)? Squat 235KG
Favourite workout music? Shots (Broiler Remix) Imagine Dragons
Favourite boots? Any adidas boots currently playing in FF80’s
Favourite day off activity? Pitch and putt golf
If you’d like to find out more about Tom check out his profile on the Leinster Rugby site here.
You can follow Tom on twitter @todenton1.
Also check out Tom’s being rugby site by clicking here.
And finally you can see the guest post that I produced for the beingrugby site on developing a winning mindset by clicking here.