Tom tries for the top

By Nigel Bartlett

Photo of Tom Kingston

It’s fair to say that 2011 was quite a year for Tom Kingston. The University rugby player signed a contract with the NSW Waratahs, making his first-grade debut at the age of 19. “It was exciting,” he says. “I’d followed the Waratahs since I was eight, when my family came back to Sydney from Hong Kong, so to get the chance to run out in the sky-blue jersey was very special for me.”

Joining the team, though, meant Tom had to take a new approach to his game. “You quickly realise that you have to be on top of every part of your strength, conditioning and rehab,” he says. “You also have to be across all the preparation, whether that’s watching training and game videos, taking part in coaches’ meetings or studying the moves. I’m really enjoying being better able to understand the game… gradually.”

Last year, Tom also represented the Australian Under 20s and scored his first Super 15 try, as well as playing with the University’s first-grade team. “I’ve really enjoyed being involved with the University club. The coaching by Todd Louden and his team is incredible, and I feel I’ve definitely improved my game under their tutelage,” he says. “It’s certainly no fluke that the club has produced as many Super Rugby players and Wallabies as it has.

I consider myself very lucky to be part of a culture like that.”

He also considers himself lucky to be a part of the University from an academic point of view, and Tom, who is in the third year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree, hasn’t shirked his studying for the sake of sport. Currently on an Elite Athlete Scholarship, he explains, “I’ve always found I play better rugby when there are other things on my mind, so study provides the perfect counterbalance for me. It’s also something I take seriously. That said, obviously there are certain time expectations for both rugby and study, so it’s a matter of constantly being organised. The University has been great at helping me achieve that.”

As for his sporting ambitions, Tom’s main one has not changed since he was a kid. “In the short term I’ve set myself the goal of being involved in as many games as possible this year with the ’Tahs,” he says. “Longer-term, my goals are the same as they were when I was 10 years old – and that’s to one day play for the Wallabies.”