Technique Talk: Meet Leon Kennedy

This week I sat down with Leon Kennedy from the Melbourne Chargers Rugby Club.

Leon’s an involved, focused fullback who has been playing with the Chargers for the past two years. Competing with the club in local, national and international events such as the Purchase Cup and the Bingham Cup.

How did you become involved with the Chargers?

“I’d always tried to be a healthy person but I was always put off by team sports. It stemmed back to high school when I was bullied while being forced to play cricket. I now hate cricket because of that experience. When I moved down to Melbourne from uni in NSW I got into a relationship and met a bunch of people through my boyfriend. When we broke up a few years later I realised I had no friends because everyone I knew I met through my boyfriend. That was hard and I got really lonely. I finally decided to bite the bullet and try a team sport to meet people and stay healthy- but I was still concious of wanting to join a team that I could relate to.. I googled gay teams in Melbourne and the Melbourne Chargers was one of the first things that came up. It must have been fate because the introductory Rugby 101 was the very next day. I almost didn’t walk over to the group on the day- I was so nervous because everyone looked so much bigger than me and I felt like I wouldn’t be any good at all. I’m glad I didn’t walk off- the people there made me feel part of the team and I haven’t looked back since.”

What is your personal aim this season?

“My first year when I joined my aim was to learn the rules. I wasn’t a seasoned rugby fan and I was learning the rules on the fly. This year I had a solid understanding of the game but realised I was being too timid with my tackles. You really can’t be timid when you tackle, it just doesn’t work. My focus was to improve my tackling skills and increase the defence in the backs.. It took a while but you certainly get a lot of experience tackling when you are fullback. In fact it’s probably one of the best positions to learn how to tackle because the opposition are usually running at you with speed.. I’m proud of how much I’ve improved in this area and there isn’t anything better than making the perfect tackle to stop the other side scoring or interrupting one of their moves. The season’s over now but next year my aim is to continue my ball handling skills with the rest of the backs before we head over to Nashville for the Bingham Cup.”

What is your favourite position on the field?

“I was on the wing in my first year which was good when you are learning, but this year I have been fullback. It’s great. You have the freedom of fitting in when you are needed in offence and really supporting the team in defence. If someone from the other side breaks through the ranks usually you are the last line of defence, and there is something great about making a tackle to stop the opposition from scoring. Its a very cardio-heavy job being fullback though. Sometimes you make a tackle, only to run across the other side of the field at full pace to make another, and then pick up the ball immediately and run at full speed across the field again to try and score. It’s a challenging position but I’d recommend it to anyone that wants that challenge.”

What training drill do you dread the most?

“As much as I love tackling in the game, I hate tackling drills at training. I hurt my ribs doing tackling drills in my first year which sat me out of training and games for over a month. I felt pretty useless during that time but it did give me some perspective on how to keep safe during training. I realised I was doing things incorrectly which probably contributed to my injury. I hate the tackling drills still- not because I’m worried about myself- but because I’m worried I’ll hurt another player. They’re important to practice though so as long as you aren’t sloppy with your form you should be fine.”

Do you have a nickname on the team?

“I don’t have a nickname, but one of the coaches took some time to figure my name out which was a running joke most of the first year. He always got me confused me with another player named Grant. When Grant moved away I them got swapped with a player named Liam. He’s figured it out now but most of the first year I’d go through periods of exasperation and amusement whenever he tried to name me.”

What has been your biggest achievement with the Chargers?

“I’m hesitant to say I got a Best and Fairest award this year, because the only reason I am there is because of the hard work of the coaches in getting me into shape, and the support I’ve had from other players. You really get to know the playing style of the players around you which has meant the team has gone from strength to strength each week. Its been the best year for the Masters team so far and being a part of that success and improvement has really been the best achievement. Seeing other players improve over the course of the year and supporting them to be better players is something I’ve really enjoyed, and can’t wait to continue in the next season.”

Why would you suggest people get involved with the Chargers?

“I really didn’t think I would be much use to the team when I first joined. I thought I was too small or my complete lack of knowledge of anything rugby related meant I would get in the way. I couldn’t’ have been more wrong. There was a bunch of similar people to me that joined with the same concerns. You learn the game quickly though and the support from everyone is amazing. I was never made to feel stupid or inadequate at any time, and from the support I got my confidence grew. I’ve met some amazing people who I now consider great friends. You get to spend so much time together that you start to become family. Next year we will be travelling to Nashville to compete in the Bingham Cup together. Not only will it be the trip of a lifetime- it will be with great friends and doing a sport I never thought I could be a part of. I’d encourage anyone of any fitness level to join too.”


If you would like more information on the Melbourne Chargers you can contact them from their Team Melbourne club page.

For more stories like Leon’s check out the Team Melbourne news feed and feel the passion members have for their clubs and teams.

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