Returning Young revelling in fast-paced games of the URC
Having returned to Welsh rugby after eight years away in England, Thomas Young is finding the BKT URC is suiting him down to the ground.
Released by Cardiff as a teenager, Young had a short spell at Gloucester before making his name during some seven seasons with Wasps. Now, aged 30, he is back at the Arms Park, and relishing his rugby having fully recovered from the alarming head injury he suffered in January, an incident which saw him hospitalised and then out of action for around six months.
He has started three of Cardiff Rugby’s four matches to date and next up will be Saturday’s Welsh derby clash at home to near neighbours the Dragons RFC.
Reflecting on life in the BKT URC after an extended spell in the English Premiership, Young said: “I don’t know if it’s because I hadn’t played for a long time, but I found the first couple of games, against Munster and Glasgow, quite quick.
“It was a bit more open and both teams were willing to throw the ball around. That’s probably one thing I have noticed. There’s a lot more ball-in-play time and the ball is thrown around a lot more. It’s something I enjoy and it probably suits me.”
While Young savours the expansive, attacking side of the game, he’s also someone who can put in a huge shift in defence when required. That was evident last weekend when he made some 26 tackles in the 16-10 victory away to the Scarlets.
“There were a fair few, I think. The body felt it anyway!” he said.
“As a team, we showed that desire most of the game. We’d had a disappointing two weeks (defeats to Glasgow Warriors and the Emirates Lions) where our performances weren’t up to where we want them to be.
“With it being a derby last weekend, we knew we had to step up and it will be the same again this week because the Dragons have shown what a decent team they are over the last month. We have got to back it up now this week.
“With derbies, everything goes out of the window really. We will try and put our mark down on the way we want to play, but we know the strengths the Dragons have got as well. It’s up to us to play the way we want to play and put our stamp on it. It’s a big game for both teams. Hopefully the fans will make a lot of noise and we’ll put on a performance for them.”
As for being back at Cardiff after a long time away, Young says: “It felt like I was going to a new club. I obviously knew some players, but I didn’t know a lot of them. So it definitely had that new club feel. I am really enjoying it.”
The four-times capped Young is enjoying life all the more now he has put his fitness issues behind him, following the worrying head injury he suffered playing for Wasps against Munster in the Champions Cup back in January.
“I was lucky there was a good physio team at Wasps, so I got looked after pretty well. It took a long time to get over. It was about six months in total I didn’t play for, so I knew it would take me a bit to get up to speed, but having a good pre-season was good for me. Having done all the right rehab stuff, I was confident with it then,” he said.
“I know there are things I have to work on, but for me it was about playing. I hadn’t played for a while, so it’s been good to get back into the swing of things and hopefully my performances can keep getting better.”
Signing for Cardiff has seen Young reunited with dad Dai, who was his coach for the bulk of his time at Wasps.
Giving his verdict on how his son is faring, Arms Park Director Of Rugby Dai said: “He did something like 30 tackles on the weekend. He is starting to settle down now and get to know the boys better. He is someone we knew would be really good for us both on and off the field.”
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