BAY Sport

With PHIL OWEN Swansea Uplands Rugby Club in Upper Killay

Phil updates us on the latest news and progress from SURC

Time to diversify

AUG2015Philrugbypic

We have been breaking new ground over the closed season and are delighted to have been able to accommodate the newest team to be established in Swansea. THE SWANSEA VIKINGS team has been born out of a desire of a few gay lads wanting to play rugby. 

The original group was started a long time ago and quickly gained 14 members, one of whom was Steve Larcombe, a 32 year old IT consultant. Head coach, Ryan Bath had played for the SURFC for a number of years and through him the Vikings were introduced to us. After a slow start Steve was asked whether he would consider organising the team, which, after some consideration, he accepted. On Sunday the 26th of April a Facebook group called Swansea 2015 Rugby was created and within the first day had 50 members. That’s what happens when you get an IT literate man on social media!

The following day, news of the newly created group was being covered by local media who wanted to cover the story. By the Thursday an article appeared in print following the first of many photoshoots. Building on the article’s success flyers were placed in strategic locations around Swansea which generated an astonishing level of interest with membership doubling overnight to over 100. 

By the beginning of May, Nigel Owens, the International rugby referee backed what the Vikings were attempting to establish and it is hoped that links with him will lead to a high-profile appearance at some time in the future – but Nigel will probably have his hands full with World Cup 2015 ahead.

Not to be left out, BBC Radio Wales wanted to do an interview with Steve and later on that morning he talked live on air with Colette Hulme about what we were trying to achieve.

On Saturday the 9th May the first meeting and training session was held. That was the opportunity for the team to pick a name which was the birth of the name ‘Swansea Vikings’. So, team named, the next thing was to choose team colours – ‘Black & Gold’. 18 members turned out that first day to take part in rugby and attendance has grown week on week ever since with 22 at the second, 27 on the third and 33 on the fourth.  All of the players are engaged, enthusiastic, eager to listen and learn.

Steve says, “When I started organising this rugby team, I had no idea that I would be thrown into the public spotlight both in the papers and radio, so dealing with that and how my life and sexuality is now so public has been a personal challenge for me”.

As for the other players in the team, they come from all different walks of life, some have never even picked up or seen a rugby ball before, most haven’t played since school, but one common theme is that for a number of reasons they felt they couldn’t participate in local teams. Which is why the Swansea Vikings exists, to provide a Gay & Inclusive team environment for people to feel safe and comfortable with who they are whilst playing the wonderful game that is rugby.

So, the next challenge was to find a suitable training and playing venue and that is where Swansea Uplands RFC stepped forward and engaged with supporting this new team. The Vikings coach is a longstanding servant of the club, Ryan Bath, who has been enthusing about the way the team has developed in a very short time.

The Viking invasion of rugby is still in its infancy but will surely mature into a force to be reckoned with following a win in their very first match against the Swansea Gladiators and losing the second match against the Llanelli Warriors. Bring on the Cardiff Lions – surely the Vikings will have the weaponry to see them off……..

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