Oxtoby’s not settling for mediocrity after smooth transition to union

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Two years ago Matthew Oxtoby was playing Sunday League football for Klosters, now he represents his town at rugby union.

Oxtoby admits he got fed up playing local football and fancied a new challenge, which is just what he got when he signed on at Scarborough RUFC.

Vox Matthew Oxtoby

Vox Matthew Oxtoby

The beanpole forward said: “I’d played football all my life and had got what I wanted out of playing with the same people like Mark Vasey and Neil Fryirs week in-week out.

“I fancied a bit of the extra contact and aggression you get out of playing rugby and had a lot of friends at the club, so thought I’d give it a go.

“I played part of last season and then Lee (coach Lee Douglas) asked me to commit more and push for a first team spot, and I haven’t looked back since.

“It took a bit of time to adapt as I wanted to play in the forwards and it took a bit of getting used to.

Action/punch up from Scarborough RUFC vs Dinnington, at Silveroyd.'093698m      pic by Andrew Higgins     05/09/09   'in Sport

Action/punch up from Scarborough RUFC vs Dinnington, at Silveroyd.'093698m pic by Andrew Higgins 05/09/09 'in Sport

“I played in the Vikings last year and Lee seemed to be impressed with me and I have taken my chance and haven’t looked back really.

“I’ve played in some good wins and now it’s a case of maintaining my form now there is real competition for places.”

Oxtoby believes the skills he learned playing football have helped him pick up the oval ball quickly and would encourage others to do the same.

He added: “I think the skills from football are transferrable.

“Having that vision and being able to read a game and react to it is important in most sports and rugby is no different.

“I’d certainly recommend rugby union to anyone who fancies a new challenge to give it a go and see how they get on.

“The set-up at the club is fantastic and the coaching is excellent.

“The guys are great and training is always competitive, which is good.”

Scarborough face their longest trip of the season tomorrow when they make the arduous trek to North Ribblesdale, and despite the fact the away side are missing key men Graeme Jeffrey and Tom Harrison, Oxtoby believes their stength in depth will start to shine through sooner rather than later.

Oxtoby added: “It’s a fair way to go and sometimes when you have a long journey you can be slow coming out of the blocks, but we’re raring to go after last week’s game was called off.

“Yes, we’re missing Jeffers (Jeffrey) and Tom (Harrison), but we’ve got Harry Domett in at full-back and Tom Ratcliffe has been playing well at fly-half.

“We’ve also got the aggressive fly-half Phil Stewart (pictured above left) waiting in the wings if we need him, he’s been playing well for the Vikings and I’m sure he’ll be pushing Tom hard for that spot in the first team.

“He won’t be happy sitting in the seconds. He’s nicknamed the honey badger, apparently the most aggressive animal on the planet, and he’ll be pushing hard on and off the pitch for his place back in the first team.

“We need to pick up some wins before our big semi-final against Selby on March 15 now, and despite that, if winning wasn’t everything, why do we bother keeping the score?

“We’ve got a strong team on paper, lets see how it looks on grass.

“We want to go into this semi-final with a string of wins behind us and that starts tomorrow at North Ribblesdale.”