The 2019 Rugby World Cup has started in Japan and millions of sport fans around the globe are watching, especially here in Wales where rugby is practically a religion. Gareth Edwards once famously said, “Rugby is part of the DNA of Welsh men and women across the globe, it is at the heart of our very essence, defining us as individuals and as a nation.”
That holds true in Gibraltar Nursing Home in Monmouth, where the matches will be closely watched by many of the ninety five “family members” who live there and want to support the national side. Where possible, the home’s care team will be watching too, as this year Wales briefly reached the number one spot in rugby’s world rankings and have been tipped as one of the favourites to win.
One of the home’s most ardent rugby fans is Tom Grocutt, who is 82 years young and grew up in Machen, near Newport. Tommy is the son of a miner and grew up to become fascinated by rugby and collecting fossils. He developed these interests further by going on to study geology at Swansea University where he also played for the university’s rugby team.
Tom has loved following Wales during this year’s Rugby World Cup and has barely missed a minute!
Having watched Wales’ latest victory against Fiji, where Wales had to come back from being 10-0 down, Tom was always confident Wales would finish victorious despite the early setback. “I knew we would win,” he says, “we just need to focus more.”
Tom’s confidence in the Welsh rugby teams’ chances hasn’t stopped at merely getting into the knockout stages, he is backing the team to go all the way. “We are doing well to be in the last 8, but by working together as a strong team, should get us a win overall!”
He married his wife, Marny in 1960 and became a teacher, working in a school in Yeovil at first, before moving back to teach in Wales at Cwmcarn Comprehensive School. He eventually retired when he reached 50.
When asked about his interest in sport he says: “I have always played and watched rugby, I played for Machen and for Swansea University, and for Yeovil when I lived in Somerset. I could tell you what happened in any of the Welsh International matches all through the seventies, and I used to be involved in the Rugby Club committee and the Welfare Committee.” Tom’s love of rugby has even taken him to Australia, to watch Wales play over there.
“Until recently I loved reading, walking and gardening, too, but these days I live with dementia, which has affected the sort of things I enjoy doing. I rarely used to watch TV, but recently I do like watching news and sport so of course I will definitely be watching the World Cup” If he is asked who his favourite rugby player is, he jokes that he is, typical of Tom and his sense of humour.
When asked what he needs to make watching a game a perfect experience, he refuses the suggestion of a few pints of ale, preferring to watch it with friends who can crowd together and yell “Come on Wales!” at all the poignant moments.
The World Cup lasts from Friday, 20th September to Saturday, 2nd November. Wales are playing Georgia on the 23rd September, Australia on the 29th September, Fiji on the 9th October and Uruguay on the 13th October.
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