When Ali moved up to secondary school, he came home one Monday and said that they’d been learning how to play rugby in PE and there was a year 7 tournament between the four local secondary schools down at Malton & Norton Rugby Club on the Wednesday of that week and that he was going to be involved in this. I thought it rather surprising as sporting wise, he’d only ridden horses and played a bit of footy up to this point but hey, trying a new sport could only be a good thing. A friend rang me after the inter school’s tournament and was very excitedly telling me that Ali needed to get down to the rugby club and start playing, his son played down there and Ali was apparently quite good at it. Jumping forward a few days and Ali asked if he could go watch his school friend Marc play rugby on the Sunday, I’d gone to school with Marc’s dad, Adrian, who asked ‘Can Ali come stay over on Saturday night, he can watch Marc play rugby on Sunday and we will drop him home afterwards?’ I said Yes, fine no problem.
Come Sunday morning, we decided we’d have a drive up and see what this rugby lark was all about, we got there during the second half and there was Ali on the pitch playing rugby!!! Ali promptly joined the Under 12’s at Malton & Norton RUFC and there began the rugby story! Ali’s sister Tatyana then shortly after decided she too would take up rugby after watching her brother and getting bored stood on the touchline.
Rugby took over our lives, most of the early days were spent down at Malton & Norton RUFC, Mondays was Girls training, Tuesdays & Thursdays were Men’s training, Wednesdays was Junior training and on Fridays, well we went down to the club because Ali & Tat wanted to practice kicking and throw a rugby ball about. Saturdays were Men’s games and Sundays were Juniors, Colts and Girl’s games.
Ali went to Bishop Burton College at aged 17 after Tevita Vaikona invited him along for an interview, where he met quite a few of the lads who have played for Hull over the years and some still do. Whilst at Bishop, Simon Middleton (currently Tat’s head coach at England Rugby) came in as Director of Rugby, he got Ali started playing for Hull RUFC which brings us to where we are today.
I am immensely proud of my son Alexander Keith Heard, aka Ali. He quietly goes about his business, keeps his head down, prepares exceptionally hard, does his extras whether it’s more running or more gym work, He is loyal, he is extremely dedicated and leads by example and always gives 100 %. He epitomises Rugby’s core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportmanship.
Over the years Ali has represented the following teams, Malton & Norton RUFC, Bishop Burton Rugby, Yorkshire U19’s, Yorkshire U20’s, Yorkshire Senior Mens, North of England Regional squad, England Students, England Counties U20’s, Two Yorkshire Terrier Tours to Australia, Akuma 7’s, 3 months playing 7’s at Chicago Blaze in the USA and playing for Speranza 22 in the Dubai 7’s as well as amassing an amazing 200 Caps here at Hull RUFC.
As his mother, I’ve always known that Ali could be successful at rugby and I’ve never worried about injuries, I do know parents who cannot watch their offspring play as they fear seeing them get hurt, it’s never been a thing for me, I love watching rugby and luckily Ali has not had much time off with injuries, but when he did, he wasn’t exactly the happiest man out there!!
200 caps is a huge accomplishment and one which should be celebrated, I’m not sure how any of our lives would be without rugby in them, the friendships we make, the camaraderie of the lads at Hull, the characters we come across and the highs and lows of sport. We have covered many thousands of miles over the years to countless Rugby Clubs, trekking to all parts of the country, in all kinds of weathers and it has been absolutely worth it to watch Ali play rugby. Congratulations Ali and here’s to many more games!