Imagine the job description: a position where you spend half your time exposed to having at least one of the biggest players on the opposition trying to ‘get at’ you, whilst you have your arms wrapped around two team mates whilst your chest, head and neck is exposed. Oh, and you need to take one of your legs off the ground whilst eight men, usually between fifteen and twenty stones, push as hard as they can against you.
Well, in the last three years at Sevenoaks Rugby Club, there has only ever been one applicant who fills that description in a 1st XV shirt.
Scotty Sedgwick arrived from neighbours Tunbridge Wells RFC at the start of the 2015/16 season. It was a move not taken lightly, having strong family connections to the Wells – Scotty playing for the minis and juniors and his father playing numerous matches across the Club’s senior sides.
His first season saw Scotty achieve promotion with Oaks via the play-offs. That season saw him ‘bed in’ to the senior set-up, predominantly on the flank rather than his preferred position of hooker.
With the appointment of Adam Bowman as Head Coach, Sedgwick transitioned back to his preferred position at the start of the 2016/17 season and hasn’t looked back since. Indeed such was his success at hooker, he was voted as Player of the Year by his peers at the end of that season.
His 100th appearance for the first team came against Bedford Athletic RFC last weekend. The 25-11 victory for Oaks was a fitting tribute to a man that has been at the coalface for Oaks over the past three seasons.
‘He’s been a critical part of our group since the day he arrived and even more so since I took the Head Coach role’ said Adam Bowman. ‘I can honestly say that he’s been the first name on the team sheet each week and that’s no disrespect to the other hookers in the group, but Scotty is just incredibly durable and as hard as nails. There have been times on a Tuesday where you think ‘nope, he’s not going to make it’, but he just grits his teeth and gets on with it.’
That bloody mindedness has seen Scotty get to the 100 cap milestone quicker than anyone else in Oaks history, which in itself is an incredible achievement. The century of caps has also seen him plunder 16 tries, a tally which includes his try on Saturday against Athletic.
‘The biggest compliment I can pay Scotty is that I would absolutely hate to play against him’ said senior coach Paul Dawson. ‘Defensively, we always talk about boys putting their ‘body on the line’ and Scotty does that and some. He embodies everything we are about as a side defensively. It can be quite funny to watch from the side lines when much bigger blokes in the opposition line him up, thinking he could be a target and then his just completely belts them into next week.’
The man himself, typically, is keen to play down any accolades, preferring to get on with the next job. ‘It’s great to get the 100, and my first question to Bowman was ‘can I retire now?’ which probably didn’t go down too well! In all seriousness, it’s been a great time to play at Sevenoaks RFC and to be a part of two promotions. What I’ve really enjoyed is the way we have progressed and to be honest, it’s just been great to get out there and play week in, week out. Touch wood, I’ve been pretty fortunate with injuries – there have been a couple of times where I’ve thought that it might be touch and go, but the physio team have patched me up and I’ve been ok.’
Director of Rugby Roger McKerlie, a front row brethren, could not speak highly enough of Sedgwick’s achievement, saying ‘Colin must be putting something in the beer here at Sevenoaks RFC that mean’s our front row forwards are able to be fit enough to reach 100 caps. Scotty follows a star studded line-up of front row forwards to reach 100 league appearances – Mark Ridout, Damian Manning, Simon Gandon, Guy McLaughlin and then more recently Dan Power and Charlie Naismith. But to achieve the milestone in such a short period is nothing short of heroic and on behalf of us all at Sevenoaks RFC, I would like to thank Scotty for his hard work and dedication to the Club and say a huge congratulations. I might also take this opportunity to remind him that as a front row forward, his best years are ahead of him and Mark Ridout’s magnificent record of 252 could be in his sights!’
His popularity extends far and wide, with the sight of the number 2 shirt being occupied by Sedgwick a comforting sight for supporters and team mates, which his current captain, Nigel Gumbleton is keen to point out. ‘Knowing Scotty is there, week in week out, gives the team a great platform to work from. His set-piece work is superb and last season, our lineout was probably the best in the league and won us a number of games. As a captain, to have that reliability helps to make decisions when kicking to touch – it makes it a lot easier when you know that you have a very good lineout.’
‘He’s also just a top bloke to have around the squad and takes players under his wing in the bar after – which sometimes might not be the best thing for their health! But he leads from the front on the pitch and shows to anyone coming into the side the level of commitment and physicality they need to bring to play 1st XV rugby.’
The last word to Sedgwick then. ‘I’m not going to think about it too much (making 100 appearances). I’d rather just crack on and get on with the next game. Although if anyone wants to buy me a drink to celebrate, that would be more than welcome!’
And so, as he runs out at the Paddock this Saturday afternoon in Oaks London Premier fixture against Sidcup RFC, be sure to give the number 2 a big cheer.
From everyone at Sevenoaks Rugby Football Club, congratulations Scotty on your magnificent achievement.