Meet John Goldman – the rugby player who proves that age is nothing but a number

Meet John Goldman – the rugby player who proves that age is nothing but a number

Meet John Goldman – the rugby player who proves that age is nothing but a number.

Recently I met John Goldman who is, in many ways, your average rugby player. John plays rugby for his local side Mill Hill RFC and each season plays approximately 22 matches, regularly staying on the pitch for the full 80 minutes.

However, there is one thing that separates John from the rest of his teammates: his age. While the average age of his team is just 25, John himself is 77 years old, making him the England’s oldest rugby player: an incredible feat if you consider just how much rugby John plays.

Falling in love with rugby again

John’s first foray into rugby came at school at the age of 14, but at the time it wasn’t something John particularly enjoyed and, coupled with suffering with asthma, John soon gave up on the sport but developed a real passion for it as a supporter.

Following a break of more than 35 years, John came back to the sport at the remarkable age of 50, inspired to get involved again after his wife who told him to “take the dog down to the local rugby club and to stop screaming at the rugby on television.” So that is exactly what John did. He walked across to his local club Hendon RFC and whilst there he met the club’s chairman who asked if John had ever played before and then asked if John was available next week. Somehow, John found himself saying yes and that was it. The next day he went up to the library and got to remind himself how to play at second row, something he had forgotten in the intervening 35 years.

The following week, John was back and this time he was on the pitch, encouraged by his teammates who taught John how to bind properly and his overall level of fitness, John played a full 80 minutes and from that point onwards didn’t want to be off a rugby field ever again.

John left Hendon RFC a few years later and ventured over to local rivals Mill Hill RFC in pursuit of more game time and transitioned from lock to prop. It was here that he found his true calling.

Set backs and recovery

Over the next few years John had a brilliant time playing rugby and really fell in love with the sport. Soon after, he suffered a number of setbacks, any one of which would be enough to keep most of us out of the game for good. These included a series of major illnesses and operations that he has battled for several years including cancer, the removal of a disc in his back and heart bypass surgery but through it all, John couldn't wait to return to rugby.

Looking back on that time, John credited rugby for helping him get through these tough times: “The operations I’ve had are pretty tough to come through”, he explains, “but I have been able to sail through them and recover quickly because of the underlying fitness I’ve attained through rugby.”

John attributes his recovery to his fitness and the care he takes in his preparation, always asking himself how he can adapt what he’s doing in his personal life to benefit his rugby. In fact, John has never come off of the field of play due to an injury.

Age is only a number

But it’s not only the fitness that John enjoys, as he explains: “I love the camaraderie, the challenges and respect for other people knowing that they’ve put their bodies on the line for the benefit of you and the rest of the team, and you can’t beat that.”

John has had a remarkable journey, one made even more special by the fact that he is now 78 and still enjoys playing rugby and living life to its fullest. John’s story is proof that it is never too late to pick up the game. As he says, “age is literally just a number. I think I’m evidence of that.”

Rugby comes in many different shapes and sizes, from walking rugby to tag rugby and so much more, so why not give one a go and start a new sport or get back into the game, improve your fitness and ultimately enjoy the benefits that come with it such as friendship and exercise.

If John can do it, why can’t you?

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