My Passion: Trying times have never put me off my love of rugby

Tom Bell: Returned to game after two-year break because of  severe knee injury.
Tom Bell: Returned to game after two-year break because of severe knee injury.
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I’ve always had a passion for rugby. My dad took me along to my first game when I was just three years old. We went to see Leeds Rhinos and even at such a young age, he said I was transfixed!

I started playing myself at Milford on Kirkstall Road when I was five and never really looked back. I then joined the junior team at Queens Rugby Club on Burley Road when I was 15 and loved every minute of every game, winning various team honours on the way including Yorkshire and National Cups. When I was 18 however, I injured my knee.

In November 2006 I had to have a full knee reconstruction. The surgeon, Mr Calder, was amazing. I took about two years off following the operation and that’s when I decided to start refereeing as I really missed the game. I reached Championship standard with my officiating and also began to coach the under-18’s squad at Stanningley which was really rewarding.

Then in my early 20’s I started playing again at Stanningley, sometimes for the second team and also for the first team who play in the National Conference League. One of the best bits about being part of a rugby club is the sense of family you have. It’s really social and not all about the game, but also about the post-match camaraderie and the odd drink or two! When you are on the pitch you put everything else out of your mind and just focus on the game in hand. You obviously need to train a lot too and as an amateur player it’s also important to try and keep your fitness levels up by going to the gym, so when you play at a certain level its takes up a lot of your time.

This summer I have taken a step back from the game and now work as treasurer at the club as well as supporting the fundraising and sponsorship activity. As well as my treasurers’ role, I’m often at the club on a weekend standing on the side-lines encouraging the junior teams and if I’m not there, I’m probably watching the Rhinos. I still regularly go along with my dad who happens to be the equipment manager, so again there is a real sense of family at the club.

Hopefully one day if I have children they will enjoy the game just as much as my dad and I do and I will encourage them to get involved in rugby as there are so many benefits to being part of such a fantastic sport.

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