After a brilliant fresher’s week at Sussex, one which saw not only a successful Freshers’ Fair, but also a phenomenal turn out at the sporting trials (roughly 160 people signed up for the rugby team alone), the Badger caught up with men’s Rugby first team captain.

Photo:sussexstudents.com

Tariq Khaldi, a third year who currently plays in the Prop position, gave his opinion on everything from the university’s gradual sporting improvement to how he sees the change on public perception of sport.

How long have you been playing the sport?
Since I was about seven years old, so nearly fourteen years.

Do you believe Sussex are serious competitors amongst the other universities?
Yes, definitely. The fact that this year we got 160 guys to sign up at freshers, of which we had 90 turn up to the first training session, says something.
If these guys chose Sussex, which is a renowned Arts university,  we must be doing something right.We have beaten typically sporting universities on different occasions, which certainly proves we’re a good side.
We’ve also got new staff, three coaches rather than one which helps a lot.

How would you describe your experiences with the team during your first year?
It was amazing, I remember going to trials and it was really friendly.
I ended up playing every game and to be honest I don’t think I’ll ever have a year of my life that was as fun and exciting as the first year.

Was it easy to get involved?
I turned up and got instant acceptance, ideal for a fresher trying to make friends.
My closest friends now at university are those I met through Rugby.

What if you’ve never played the sport before?
Everyone’s welcome. Obviously some guys will get left out of the team as the turn out was huge.
However I told everyone who came to training to definitely come back irrespective of ability.
It might be hard to learn how to play, but it is very gradual and anyone who needs help, will get it.

Does your involvement with the team clash with your university work?
Sometimes as captain I have to leave early on Mondays and Fridays for training but fortunately Wednesdays are scheduled off.

How do you rate Brighton University’s Rugby team?
I’d say there are two guys who we need to watch. One is my opposite number and their number 10. I respect those guys because they’re good players.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen on the pitch?
It was a second team game. Because of what he did, the number 10 earned the nickname Dirty Tom. He was under the weather and s*** himself whilst taking a tackle.
Nonetheless he wiped himself clean and came back on. He’s a dedicated guy!

Socially speaking what happens beyond the pitch?
We have Wednesday night socials, all meeting up at a local pub, such as the Lectern on Lewes road, and then going off into town.
No-one is forced to drink and I must reiterate this, it’s always a team thing.

Would you say Rugby is a pursuit typically reserved and subsequently associated with the upper classes and private education?
I wouldn’t say so at all, no way!
I went to a grammar school in Croydon which was quite rough but they still introduced Rugby.
The best thing about Rugby is that it allows for you to channel your aggresion, it brings people together.
You can hate someone off the pitch but you become brothers on the pitch.
I know some guys who quit school, left early and yet still play Rugby to an unbelievable standard.
I think maybe it used to be about social status but now it’s literally all about ability.

Finally, who do you think is going to win the world cup?
I  lean towards New Zealand, maybe Australia. I’d love to say England but their style is too boring.

The Men’s Rugby Club runs two teams that compete in the British Universities & Colleges Sports (BUCS) leagues.  Last season the 1st XV won their league and secured promotion whilst the 2nd XV came a respectable fourth in a competitive league.

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