It's amazing to see rugby league celebrate its 125th anniversary, and has led me to reflect on what the sport has given me throughout my life.
Out of those 125 years, my association with rugby league covers 37 of them, and has fallen into three distinct categories.
When I first started playing the game at five years old it gave me immense enjoyment, a sense of belonging and an understanding of fairness and what is right and wrong.
It also gave me plenty of tears from frostbite in my fingers and toes, from the days it was played in the winter as a kid.
Moving into the professional game, I owe the sport a great debt for the person I am today.
Rugby league taught me about hard work and being honest both with myself and other people.
It taught me how to be resilient, and that if you push yourself beyond what you think is physically and mentally possible, then you can achieve great things.
It allowed me to meet a wide range of diverse people that I wouldn’t have done without rugby league.
But the main thing it taught me, through all the times I was part of a team that won against the odds, was that there’s no such things as problems in life, only solutions.
Now being in retirement it’s come full circle.
I still have that great sense of belonging through all the shared memorises and enjoyment I’ve had from playing down the years.
I have a wide range of friends because of the sport, and most importantly, I get a huge amount of enjoyment from watching the modern version.
I love the product we have on the field, and rugby league continues to offer life lessons for me all of the time.
I’ll finish with two questions to ponder, neither of which I have the answer to.
The first is how has rugby league impacted on your life?
And what will the sport look like in another 125 years?
It’s almost impossible to say, but rugby league has shown throughout its history that it always finds a way to survive.
- *** Betfred – Passionate about rugby league ***
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