Offside Chats: Will Burke Returns to Buffalo
This is OFFSIDE CHATS, where Rugby United New York athletes, coaches, and staff give you never before seen insights into the inner workings of a professional rugby team. Each week, a member of the organization will write a blog discussing any topic they see fit.
Last Saturday, Rugby United New York played a preseason fixture against the Toronto Arrows. For new signing Will Burke, it was more than just his first outing as a professional rugby athlete, but it was also his return to his hometown. Will recounts his experience playing professional rugby and what it was like to play in front of his family and friends as a RUNY athlete.
By Will Burke
It is a privilege to represent Buffalo on the RUNY squad and in the MLR. As the only native Buffalo athlete in the MLR, I hope to inspire college and high school players back home who want to be professional rugby players by showing them that it is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.
Being a professional rugby athlete is one of my proudest achievements. It symbolizes all the hard work, dedication, and self-belief coming to fruition. I always knew I wanted to be a professional rugby player; I had my doubts along the way, but I never stopped believing in myself. Signing onto the RUNY team proved to myself more than anything what I am capable of and that this is only the beginning.
The feeling of playing in my first professional rugby match alone was amazing, but to play in front of my friends and family in my hometown was surreal and a dream come true. The feeling didn’t really settle with me until after the match when I was able to talk to my family and friends. It meant so much to me to have them come cheer me on at the match.
They have supported me throughout the ups and downs over the years no matter what, and to have them there to see me living out my dream of becoming a professional rugby player was a feeling I will never forget. I was thankful more than anything to be able to represent my community, make everyone proud and give back to everyone who has supported me throughout this long journey.
Honestly the atmosphere felt like any other match I have played in. For me as a player, I don’t focus so much on the outside forces and pressure of playing in big matches, such as playing in my first professional match. I treated the match like any other and played the game of rugby like I always have. I felt very comfortable in my first appearance as a professional player and thought I played well.
I believe playing for RUNY will bring me to my athletic potential. The team environment and coaching staff will challenge me on and off the field to constantly improve my skills and abilities. I hope my experiences playing for RUNY will help me get better and better with each practice and match. I know I’m where I need to be to succeed and be a strong rugby athlete. I am excited for the future of my career and to work even harder to be the best player I can be with Rugby United New York.
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