Rhodri Adamson: Staying realistic

The Newcastle University student talks of his playing days in BUCS, representing England and life in National One with Blaydon

Three years since he accepted an offer from Newcastle University to study ancient history, Rhodri Adamson is still very much in the early stages of his rugby career, but there is certainly nothing antique about this exciting talent.

The thing about Adamson is that every time he has been asked to play at a higher level he has risen to the challenge, but he remains completely grounded despite having quite a glowing CV. Representing Newcastle Falcons on the 7s stage and England at various levels is certainly something to boast about, but Adamson is fully aware there is still so much more to come from him.

We speak during a tough time for Adamson as he is going through his final year of university. He has always known working hard opens doors in life whether that be on or off the field. And those two elements combined instantly when he arrived at Newcastle University.

By the time he had settled down into his degree, he was already part of the university rugby set-up with the 4th XV. As the year’s advanced, he moved his way through the rugby ranks before he had to make a choice in where is rugby career would go next.

“I was part of the Newcastle University set-up up until November," he says. "However since then, Newcastle have decided to opt for a ‘university only’ policy meaning that I had to choose between club rugby in National One or university rugby. As such, after four games this season I decided to focus purely on my club rugby but it was a very tough decision and one that I did not take lightly.

“However I stay involved with training when I can with the guys at university. The university boys are going well. To do the double over local rivals Northumbria is always a huge bonus and it looks as though we will finish in the top four for the first time in a while.”

Decision made and Adamson now knows exactly where he fits in, and that is with National One side Blaydon. But that is not the full story.

From the day when he was taking centre stage at Twickenham for Northumberland to the Premiership 7s and England squads, it has been quite a journey for Adamson over the last couple of years.

"Our county side was a funny one," Adamson says. It had a good balance of Newcastle University boys, Northumbria boys, and local players from the surrounding clubs. However, we came together very quickly and formed a tight bond (despite some rivalries) which I am sure is why we were so successful.

"Twickenham was a daunting experience, not only because of the historical arena but also because of the opposition in Yorkshire so to beat them 39-10; it just doesn’t get much better than that.

"On a personal note to have scored 24 points was such a great feeling. I owed much of it to a very dominant pack and our nifty backs who dotted down a fair few tries. I had a pretty strong kicking campaign with Northumberland U20s, I think I missed two kicks in the 6 games; so scoring those 24 points at Twickenham was a nice way to top it off."

That triumph for Adamson was in May 2014, a year into his university life. He was named a scholar by the university that summer which meant he was seen by the university as an ‘elite sportsman.’ To have been in the fourth team at university for just one year and then announced as a rugby scholar, means that you must have talent and Adamson has that in abundance.

So county honours and sports scholar to his name, what was next on Adamson’s list? His simple answer: “England.”

But to represent your country is anything but simple.

Adamson has played for England Counties and England Students over the last few years and, he says, he knows how important it is to pull on that white jersey.

“I honestly cannot compare it to anything else. To represent your country, at whatever level, is a huge honour and one that I will never forget. Every time you go into camp you have a nervous excitement, whether that is the first time you pick up your kit or whether you are singing the national anthem.

“I was selected for the England Counties U20 side following that strong campaign with Northumberland. Halfway through this camp I received a call from the England Counties Senior manager, and he invited me on the summer tour to Georgia a few weeks later. To be honest I did not really realise what a huge honour it was until I got there, and saw the calibre of player that I was playing with. I hadn’t had a taste of National League rugby by this time, so to be selected in a squad full of the best amateur and semi-professional rugby players in the country was a real honour.”

“Last year I received a call up to England Students to play in a development game against France, and a fully capped game against Wales. Both games were a fantastic experience.”

And still that wasn’t all for Adamson. That first taste of high level rugby was just the beginning as it paved the way for him to move into the National Leagues with Blaydon and also gave him the chance to represent Newcastle Falcons 7s in last summer’s Singha 7s where he excelled under the lights at The Stoop.

“I received a phone call two nights before the finals day asking if I was available,” Adamson says.  “I was down south at the time so I got on the next flight up to train with the squad. I have always seen myself as a player who doesn’t get nervous before big games, but I have to say that I was the most nervous I have ever been the whole day leading up to it.

“My friend sent me through Wasps’ squad that included Daly, Wade, Simpson and a number of other 1st XV regulars. This just added to the nerves and I seriously started to doubt whether I was going to be out of my depth. Not only was I going to be playing in front of 4000 spectators, but also my family, my girlfriend, and those BT Sport cameras.

“However, as soon as I started to warm up the nerves disappeared and I really started to enjoy myself. In the game against Exeter Chiefs I managed to get across the line. I don’t remember it exactly, but to feel that I had contributed to the team was such a relief and definitely one of the best moments I’ve ever had. The next day I had to drive up to Doncaster and play 80 minutes for Blaydon in a preseason friendly, so that was a tough few days!”

There have been very few tough days so far in Adamson’s career, but for his current club Blaydon, they have found their season difficult thus far with them sitting in the bottom three and two points from safety. Blaydon have links with Newcastle Falcons which is something Adamson was keen to point out so with that in mind, the talented back knows his side have the quality to get themselves out of trouble.

“This season we had a tricky start in the league, however a recent run of form means that we are out of the relegation zone. I know we will stay up. We have too much quality. We, as players, just need to all buy into our game plan and pay back Micky Ward [Director of Rugby] for the mountain of work he puts in weekly to help us.

"My short-term ambitions are fully focused on Blaydon, and ensuring that we stay up. I would also love to try and break back into that summer tour squad with the England Counties set up."