- London Welsh captain cherishing responsibility for the upcoming season
- Exiles open 2013/14 Greene King IPA Championship campaign on September 14 against Bedford Blues
Photo: RFU Archive
London Welsh team captain Tom May has good reason to look forward to returning to the Kassam Stadium this season, if his previous experience there is anything to go by.
It was his stunning two tries in as many minutes in a 31-14 Northampton Saints win in April at the Kassam that condemned Welsh to Greene King IPA Championship rugby this season.
New Exiles team captain or not, May’s inevitably had to put up with some stick for that since joining up with his new teammates, but on Saturday he’ll lead Welsh out at Chinnor with his goal now being to take the club back to the Aviva Premiership.
“It was pleasing to be able to get on the field that day against Welsh (May came on in the 19th minute for the injured George Pisi) a lot earlier than I thought I was going to. I was due to play about half an hour, but to get on after 15 minutes or so was great,” May recalled.
The Exiles get their season underway against Chinnor at Kingsey Road on Saturday (kick-off 2:30pm), before entertaining the Scarlets at the Kassam (August 25) and travelling to Henley Hawks (August 31).
“These next three weeks are really important leading into the Bedford game on September 14. Obviously everyone wants to get back to the Premiership but you’ve just got to build into the season,” said May.
“We’re confident in our ability and our squad, and it’s a good bunch of lads. We’ve worked hard over the summer, but everyone will have done that, so it’s how you take all of that pre-season work and input it into your on-field play that will make the difference.”
Although his previous experience of captaincy has been limited to leading Northampton on a handful of occasions and England U21s, May has a wealth of experience at the top level, including being capped twice by England, and his appetite for the challenge ahead is just as fierce as ever.
“I’m excited about being given the role and the responsibility of helping the team to progress this season,” he added.
“I wanted to come here because I wanted to be able to contribute to a team. You play rugby because you want to play. I had offers to play in the Premiership with teams at the top end of the league, but I knew I’d be covering rather than going with a real challenge to play and I didn’t want to do that.
“I always get people saying ‘you’re 34, you’re at the end of your career’ but I’m still fit and I’m keeping these young lads on their toes. As long as I can keep doing that and I’m still enjoying it then there’s no reason why I should stop.
“There are a lot of guys who get to my age and maybe stop, but I’d like to think the fact that I’ve looked after myself over the past few years is helping now.”
He did, however, enhance his captaincy credentials down under this summer by leading a British & Irish Legends team to a two ‘Test’ victory over a Classic Wallabies line-up.
May’s legends team included Colin Charvis, Alan Quinlan and Arwel Thomas, while the Wallabies were captained by David Campese and included Jeremy Paul, Stephen Larkham, Nathan Grey and Justin Harrison.
“Hopefully that bodes well for the future. I was the only guy who was still playing and I only really have an ‘on’ and an ‘off’, so I can’t go half into anything,” said May.
A character trait that bodes well for London Welsh this season.