He tried football, kickboxing, karate, but rugby was the one. Kyle Sinckler talks about his journey of being a football-mad youngster from south London to propping for England and Harlequins.
“I love the game and want to enjoy every moment. Blink and it’s over. You have to relish every training session, every game and experience with the boys. Before you know it, it’s gone.”
I grew up in south London where football is religion. I used to play but it got to that stage where I stopped enjoying it because I’d get told off for being too physical.
By chance my mum was speaking to one of her good friends and she suggested that I came down to the local rugby club on Sunday. Her son had just started at Battersea Ironsides, so I thought ‘why not?’ I rocked up in full Manchester United and gave it a good crack. From that moment I fell in love with the sport."At the time I didn’t know what rugby was"
At the time I didn’t know what rugby was, the coach just told me, ‘if you get the ball you run forward, if someone runs into you, touch them’, and that was that. I loved it.
I went to Graveney School and my teacher Miss Long had a massive part to play in my career, her love for the game was unbelievable. She helped me out a lot as well, taking me to training in Reigate, waiting for me and dropping me home on occasions. When the rugby season ended I would be twiddling my thumbs so I’d play football or cricket to keep myself busy.
It was a weird one at the start as my friends at school didn’t know what rugby was, a few came to watch me play around the age of 13 or 14 because it was close to the football club. I told them I was interested in starting a team at school and thought they would be good. They were quick and massive. I spoke to Miss Long and she said yes. A lot of my mates started playing and my advice to them was the same, ‘You get the ball and you run forward. Don’t worry about kicking and passing.’ They enjoyed it.
It helped my rugby development to coach a game I was learning myself. I was at state school and as I was developing I would compete against kids at private school who were training twice a week, playing twice a week and who had gym facilities available. I wanted to get to their level. We did alright. Graveney is now one of the best state school teams in the country and they got to the Daily Mail Vase final a few years ago and they are doing very well.
‘Just get in this position and push'
I got spotted by a guy called Collin Osborne. I was playing against KCS Wimbledon and Collin’s son was playing for them so he was there to watch. I had a decent game and few weeks later got invited to a Harlequins trial for the academy. He moved me to tight-head prop straight away because I was always a centre or a full back. It was a big change but one one I thank Collin for. It was a real opportunity. If you know Collin Osborne it’s not really a conversation. I didn’t have a say in the matter. ‘Just get in this position and push’. I always remember those words and haven’t looked back.
I’m quite vocal on the pitch. The way I see it, any little advantage you can get over your opposition should be celebrated. I like to bring energy and enthusiasm and celebrate little victories. It’s so tough out there. Why wouldn’t you try and enjoy it?
Blink and it's over
Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been frustrated and have looked for an outlet. I tried kickboxing, karate, but rugby was the one. As soon as I played I enjoyed it. I loved the physical side to it but also having to back it up for 80 minutes. There is no better feeling when you’ve played well and you can celebrate it together with your team mates. That’s what I love about the game.
When you sit back and look at it, you’ve got to pinch yourself sometimes. I’ve still got a long, long way to go and I’m nowhere near any of the goals I wanted to achieve with Harlequins and England. It’s just the start for me, I just need to keep my head down, work hard and see where it takes me.
I love the game and want to enjoy every moment. Blink and it’s over. You have to relish every training session, game and experience with the boys. Before you know it, it’s gone.