Newcastle Falcons’ dramatic 35-30 triumph over Sale Sharks in round 20 of the Aviva Premiership was one of the most enthralling contests of the season, but it was a game won in the final few minutes by Falcons forward Rob Vickers.
Here he reveals how there is so much more to the veteran Falcons front-rower than just rugby.
The 36-year-old prop has consistently proved he still has what it takes to compete on the field but says he spends most of his spare time now on his wife’s family farm just outside Durham.
“I put in as much time as I can into the farm,” said Vickers, who has a new-born son and a five-year-old daughter.
“When I’m not training it’s either farming or parenting. My wife runs the farm and she’s the boss, so anything I can do to help her is on my list of priorities.
“We go out on the farm a lot, the kids love being out in the fresh air and being on the beach.
“We’re blessed in the North East, there’s a fantastic coast line and there’s the hills, there’s loads to do, Durham itself is buzzing.”
Shy and retiring
Having made over 200 appearances for Newcastle Falcons during a career spanning over a decade, Vickers had his testimonial earlier this season.
Despite appreciating the gesture, Vickers revealed he actually shies away from the limelight.
“For me it’s something I’m reasonably uncomfortable with,” he continued. “Rugby was something that came along at a later point – I did university, I did a Masters degree and was working as a conditioning coach when the opportunity came along to come to Newcastle.
“But being famous wasn’t anything I necessarily wanted, it was an opportunity to do something I loved – being able to play rugby and it be your job is the best thing in the world. Being famous was never a driver for me.
“In terms of my 200th cap, I brushed it under the carpet in the sense that I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but at the same time it’s hugely satisfying having been at Newcastle for a long period of time. It will always be a huge part of my life.”
Now coming towards the end of the playing career, the Yorkshireman has started to assess his post-rugby options.
“My degree was in sport and the Masters was in business management,” said Vickers. “It’s potentially something I might go into after rugby, there’s loads of things I want to try.
“When I did the Masters it was always with a view to go into business when I retired, but then my wife has that lovely-sized farm just outside Durham where I do my bit at the moment, so hopefully I can do something there and spend more time being a dad as well which will be quite nice.
“I’ll stay in the North East and if there’s a coaching job that comes up then that would be great.
“I’d love to be a coach, I feel that having made that transition in the front row and worked as a conditioning coach prior to going to Newcastle, I’ve probably got a unique set of skills.”
Back in the top four after the victory over Sale, Falcons have won five from the last six Premiership matches and have their semi-final destiny in their own hands.
Having come through the club’s academy while a student at Durham University, Vickers claims that the influx of players from the surrounding areas has helped develop a culture at Falcons, which in turn has led to success this season.
“It’s been a progression, but the continuity of players has been important to that,” he added.
In case you haven't caught up with the action from last Friday, check out the highlights here. pic.twitter.com/tHYEtMn7Ju— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) April 16, 2018
“There’s a good number of local players now which is key, and there’s a number of players who have played lots of games.
“More players are staying for longer and wanting to stay for longer. I think that is important for coaching as well because you’re not having to re-invent the culture every year.
“Game by game we can take care of our own business, we’re not relying on other teams around us to get results or other things to happen, it’s down to us really, we can pretty much control our destiny.”