I am 19 year old, first year Medical student, and very proud to have received a VC scholarship for rugby from Durham University. I started playing rugby at age 12 at 8 and by age 16 was playing 6 for Horsham RFC, Sussex and Harlequins. I secured a rugby scholarship to Brighton College at age 16, captained the 1st XV from 8, and represented Sussex and Harlequins at 6 to U18. I completed a Gap year to apply to Durham and I spent my time playing semi-pro for Worthing Raiders in Nat 2 South. I chose Durham, because it is the best university in the country for combining top class rugby with high quality academic study.
Muscles ache and bones creek at the thought of the hill, the vertical drop with which we ascend. A barren waste where only footholds and mud can be found. Three trees mark the path to follow, the path to the top of the hill, the path to our salvation. Many times we have climbed the hill and there will be many more to come. But this is our last for this season the last before our weary legs can rest.
Preparation begins as we think of tackling her and I look around and I see my brethren, each one equally tired but equally ready. My friends and rugby family, nervous for that whistle to sound to begin our ascent. The last few moments and suddenly the squeal of the hill beckoning us appears. We begin our work.
A wave of palatinate smashes onto the shore. Leading from front and pushing from back. No man left behind, no man left alone. Our nails dig in and our legs begin to tremble, we reach and grab for any stability a tree, a rock but often the man in front. We power through that first climb, that first ascent is child’s play to this palatinate army. With equal force we crash down the hill readying ourselves for what is to come.
Eight times we make that breach and 8 times the enemy, that mistress found in the hill, has been found wanting. No man left behind, no man left alone. As a group we push, we run, we hobble, we stagger, we trudge, we move, we just keep moving, keep going forward until salvation.
That last run of the season we grouped at the bottom we looked at each other looked into the eyes of the men around us, looked at the worn out faces and the tired legs. No words were uttered but we knew together we had defeated the hill and so with our last breathes we went again, in to the breach, one last time in to the breach.
At that point I knew what it meant to be palatinate, I knew that the men around me would trust in me as I would trust in them. I now love this new family that I have been welcomed to. I know palatinates do not die, do not shy away from pain, do not give up. We are an army and when the going gets tough we rise above, just as we rose above, The Hill.
‘Fundamenta eius super montibus sanctis’