Holt seconds captain Rathleff has come a long way in 20 years

Holt Seconds captain Tommy Rathleff. Picture: Club

Holt Seconds captain Tommy Rathleff. Picture: Club - Credit: Archant

From Denmark to Norfolk via Hong Kong, Singapore and Brazil — Tommy Rathleff has been on quite a journey.

And the 47-year-old Dane, who is the captain of Holt's second team. admitted: 'Rugby has probably saved my life.'

It all began after Brøndby-born Rathleff left the Danish army, moved to Hong Kong for work and had a conversation with his wife that indirectly led him to take up rugby at the age of 27.

'She told me I needed to either stop getting so fat or find a bigger house to live in,' says Rathleff. 'Of course I went looking for a bigger place immediately.

'The person I rented the flat off was the general manager at Hong Kong FC which had many rugby teams and he said I should come along to training.

'I turned up and the fourth 15 were about to play a match. Their captain was in the changing room saying 'right boys we're going to play uncontested scrums today because we have no tighthead prop'. One of the other players saw me walk in and said 'You do now.''

'They threw me straight into a match and I played 80 minutes. That was the beginning of my love affair with rugby.'

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Rathleff had the rugby bug and after playing in both Singapore and Brazil, his family moved to Norfolk in 2014.

'48 hours after I landed in the UK I walked into Holt RFC. I didn't know anybody in this country at all, not a single person so I thought the best way to get into the community was through rugby.

'I turned up to my first training session in January. All four of us had a really good session that evening.'

Rathleff is now in his third season with the club was named captain of the seconds during the summer. His side have started well in Eastern Counties Greene King Division Two North, winning two out of three having been promoted last season.

'I take this very seriously because rugby has given me so much,' he said. 'Without being melodramatic, rugby has probably saved my life. I was on the verge of being morbidly obese and turning into a bit of a loner. Now I'm a sociable and fairly fit. It doesn't matter what you do, how much you earn, where you're from — if you turn up at a rugby club you are instantly accepted. There is no judgement, because nothing brings you together like a rugby club.'