Another insightful profile by Gabi Taylor! This time on one of our joint Club Captains, Al Ryan. Al is our 1st Grade prop and a longstanding member of SUFC. He is passionate about club culture loves the game. Enjoy the read!
Al Ryan: a fifth year member of the club, joint club captain, and a prop that clocks at least 80 minutes per week on the field. It’s safe to say that he is a prominent leader for the Sydney Uni rugby team. This comes as no surprise as rugby seems to be ingrained in his family culture; he took his first steps on the oval when he was just a baby, his father used to play for Sydney Uni, and all four of his siblings have played the game.
While he loves the playing time, Al tells me one of the biggest setbacks this season has been recovering from his knee injury. In 2013, Al went on a three-week tour in the UK expecting to play in every game. However, in the very first game against Oxford, having been there for less than 24 hours, he tore his meniscus on both sides of his knee. He didn’t get to play until the very last game. Despite this fairly recent and clearly still problematic injury, Al tells me his trip to the UK still remains one his favorite moments in his athletic career.
This happy-go-lucky mentality is clearly a prominent character trait, as evidenced by our conversation about Al’s career highlights. He begins telling me about his first year as a colts player and enthusiastically shares that one of his greatest achievements in the sport is working his way from second and third colts team to being brought up to first team for the semi final and grand final: “it was definitely one of my best games. It was awesome.” To top it off, he ended up getting 3 points from coach’s picks after the game. His talent was also recognized in 2008 when he was awarded as best player after playing for Canberra in the national championships for ACT.
While it’s clear Al is a standout rugby player, he is still plenty busy with work and school. When he’s not working at Slater & Gordon, you might find Al deep in a book working towards completing his history degree from University of Notre Dame. Although he’s still figuring out what he wants to do after completing his major in a year and a half, he shares that he would love to take a huge road trip through the United States and see everything from northern California all the way up to the Eastern seaboard.
On top of all this, Al still has time to be the assistant rugby coach at Newington College. He’s been coaching for several years now and says he could even see himself coaching in the future. When I ask whether it’s more frustrating or rewarding to coach, he responds in his characteristic optimistic nature: “it can definitely be frustrating at times because it’s hard to get across what we want the players to do…but seeing them finally accomplish what they’ve been working towards and watching them succeed is very rewarding.” He continues by saying that his favorite part about coaching is watching the players grow and change into “proper players” and maybe even play with some of them in the future.
Focusing back on his own season, Al tells me he’s hoping to finish this season off with a bang: “my main goals for this year are to remain in first grade, to win a premiership, and to win a club championship.”