Name: David Eldridge
When did you join #TeamRoundheads: Afraid I’m the one who got things started, putting out a call for interest in Hull’s LGBT Forum at the prompting of friends from the Leeds Hunters. Didn’t have a clue how it would snowball from there.
Did you have any experience playing rugby before? And what attracted you to rugby?: Only at school, from 11-16. Given I’m 45 now, that was a lifetime ago, and it was not an enjoyable experience. What attracted me to it so many years later was seeing it through the eyes of other IGR team members I’d met – seeing the camaraderie and friendships they’d built through playing together – and believing Hull would benefit from that too.
Why do you think there is a need for Inclusive Rugby?: As other members affirm, there’s definitely a need for a ‘safe space’ in which LGBT players can feel free from the homophobia and sexism prevalent in so many sports and just be themselves. Of course, rugby has often been more accepting and successful in combating homophobia than football in any case; but as our trans members attest, there’s still a way to go. Just as importantly, this team is inclusive regardless of ability or experience – it’s not just about sexual diversity – and that makes it so much more fun to be a part of. You never feel excluded like I certainly did at school, when being among the last to be picked week in, week out. And Hull has a need for it too: something different for the LGBT community to rally around and take pride in!
What have you enjoyed the most about being a Roundhead and what is your favourite memory so far?: I wasn’t expecting to play. My initial ambition was just to facilitate getting the Club off the ground. I’ve enjoyed being carried along by the enthusiasm of all the guys who suddenly picked up the ball and ran (and tackled and rucked) with it, to the point where I genuinely love being on the training pitch pushing myself further every week. Favourite memory is of first hearing the words, “great pass David!” coming from the mouth of our RFU coach Greg. Words I never heard at school and never thought I would.
What does being part of the Roundheads mean to you?: I would say “family” like many of the other guys, but it’s truly about being part of a team and experiencing how transformative and exciting that is in itself.
Finally, to anyone reading this who is thinking of joining with experience or no experience playing rugby, but who haven’t yet decided to #ruckwithus, what would you say to them?: If you’re even curious, give it a try. You will ache afterwards, but you’ll have a grin on your face for days!