Our Dragons Community team are out and about across the region every day, aiming to unite and inspire through the delivery of a diverse and innovative range of initiatives.
The ‘In the Community’ feature is all about the stories of the people they come into contact with. Today we hear from Karen Crompton about her son Tom and his rugby journey.
Tom was born in England, but all my family live in Newport. Tom started playing rugby aged six. As a chubby boy who was one of slowest in class, he loved the inclusiveness of the rugby game and that there was a role for everyone whatever shape or size. He went to his first Dragons camp in 2012 aged eight, not really knowing what to expect.
As a mother I was nervous leaving him there all alone on the first day particularly as living away he didn’t know anyone there. Mike and Janice made him feel at home straight away and he waved me off happily looking forward to the experience of training at the home of the Dragons.
I popped back lunchtime to check on him having worried all morning to find him happily chatting away to Taulupe Faletau in the clubhouse while eating his sandwiches. The first team were training at home that day and all were happy to chat to the boys and have their photos taken with them.
Tom had an amazing experience that day. He was keen to show off all the new skills he had learned and when I picked him up, was arranging with friends he had made to sign up for the next camp.
As Tom got older he changed shape and moved from prop, to back rower to fly half. He got picked to be part of Sale DPP and Lancashire squads and signed up as part of the Welsh Exiles Programme.
He continued to attend Dragon Camps each Easter and Summer looking forward to meeting up with the friends he had made and always being made to feel really welcome by Mike and his team. He met new friends each camp some of whom he is still in contact with and loved being taught new skills which he put into practise when playing for his home team.
As a Dragons supporter he attended matches with the family and loved watching the players he met at camps playing for his team. Tom also joined the WRU junior supporters club and won competitions to meet the players and his face got picked alongside his little sister to advertise the junior supporters club.
One of his proudest moments came when he won a competition to be the Welsh mascot in the Six Nations Wales versus Ireland game where he had the honour to run out onto the pitch with one of his heroes Sam Warburton.
Tom was selected to attend some Welsh Exiles events. One of these was held at Monmouth School for Boys. While attending the event Tom found out about their rugby programme and scholarship opportunities. He applied to the school and was delighted to be accepted for a Sixth Form place.
He is loving life as a boarder in Monmouth and is currently playing fly half for the first team, where expert coaching is helping him develop his game. He is also benefiting from excellent teaching and learning opportunities. He is hoping to get a place in Cardiff University after A levels. He has also joined Monmouth Town Rugby Club where he was delighted to meet up again with Mike Sage who asked him to share his rugby experience.