Sam Meredith was one such player. He’s heading to his first Bingham this summer as a back for the Swansea Vikings, who launched in 2015. “I had no real rugby experience before I joined,” says the 28-year-old, “and it was very daunting. I suffered big time with low confidence and anxiety. I was so shy, especially with trying to get to know people.
“But the boys were so welcoming and helpful, and I was soon able to find my bearings and just learn the game. I knew I was more of a runner than a rucker, but now I feel I can play pretty much anywhere – except the front row. I couldn’t do their job!”
I’ve spoken to a few people who have been [to the Bingham Cup] before and all I get is glowing recommendations.
Swansea Vikings’ Sam Meredith
For Meredith and his team-mates, there’ll be national honour at stake at Bingham too. “We’re the only Welsh club competing, and we’re undefeated against other IGR teams in the UK,” he says proudly. However, he’s quick to stress that it’s the spirit of the tournament that matters most. “For there to be so many teams playing there, from so many different walks of life, is really exciting. I’ve spoken to a few people who have been before and all I get is glowing recommendations.”
He also sees it as a milestone on his personal journey. “The sport has really changed me as a person.” He pauses. “In all honesty, I wouldn’t have been able to have this conversation now if it wasn’t for the Vikings.”