Nottingham, in the East Midlands, is certainly a far cry from New Zealand, but for Archers captain, Nathan Tweedy, it’s where is heart currently is having oved to the other side of the world back in 2021 – why, well that’s down to his head coach, Craig Hammond.
Having played provincial rugby for the likes of Hawkes Bay, Hurricanes, and Hong Kong Scottish, back home, taking in the delights of New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong itself, the call to follow Hammo to British soil was a no-brainer.
Mind you, he’s not let go of the roots of his motherland, far from it; the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France would see him nip over the North Sea to watch the mighty All Blacks edge past a stubborn Ireland in the quarter-finals.
You can also add to that, Tweedy has also just finished a degree through Massey University, Psychology with Counselling (2018-23) which, although not fully utilising at present, he plans to in the future.
“(Psychology degree) I’ve always had an interest in that sort of thing and would love to be able to use it,” began the Nottingham RFC captain.
“However, it’s a tough job to do on the side of playing, and coaching at the same time.
“It’s something that I have an eye for the future, after I’ve finished playing, which is still some way off, although I can and do use snippets of it now.
“I’m into my third season now with the Archers, as well as doing some coaching alongside, having joined the club midway through the 2021 season, and last season, that was really an up and down one.
“We just needed to find some kind of consistency, although we did collect some really good wins at the same time.”
What about back home though, and how that move to the East Midlands, from all those thousands of miles away, came about.
New Zealand (All Blacks) and Australia (Wallabies) are well-known for their rugby prowess, and here in Nottingham they’ve been fortunate to have some of their finest exports, including their current captain, as well as their former player turned head coach.
It is down to the latter as being the reason which Tweedy made the jump across the other side of the world though.
“I played for a couple of different provinces back home in New Zealand,” Tweedy added.
“I also played in Australia and Hong Kong, where I met Hammo.
“I always wanted to come here though, to England, and when he got in touch and asked, it was an easy decision to make.
“He knows me well, knows how I operate, and I know what he is all about, so that was a big selling point, for both of us.”
Albeit briefly, Tweedy has also enjoyed a spell with Premiership Rugby outfit, nearby Leicester Tigers, but it’s with Nottingham, in the Championship, where he’s got to grips with the English style, mixed with a twang of All Black.
“I enjoyed the experience at Leicester Tigers, and I try to play to that sort of level every week,” explained the flanker who led his side to an opening day victory this past weekend on Merseyside.
“My mind is focused on playing at a high level, so to face the likes of Saracens, and Harlequins, like we did in the Premiership Cup, then it’s a year under our belt and we can have some excitement about it.
“Personally though, I thought it was awesome, outstanding, to have those kind of games.”
Now though, focus is firmly on the task at hand, and the season ahead in the Championship; the opening day success, 44-31 away to Caldy, seeing tries flow as Marcus Ramage, Michael Stronge and Harry Graham all grabbed braces, the Archers running in seven in total, was quickly followed up by a 41-28 success at home to Ampthill, Ramage again at the double with Bunting grabbing a try and a conversion.
The season opener, it was a game, and a result, that encouraged the Nottingham captain, and which he’s expecting to see more of as the season progressed.
“Facing Caldy, in the season opener, we knew how tough that would be, especially going there for it,” Tweedy stated looking back at the weekend’s result.
“We did let them back into the game a little the more it wore on, but I was pleased that we showed we can push through the full eighty minutes, something we couldn’t do at times last season.
“That’s something which has put us in good stead moving forward this season.”
And what about this season, what’s the expectations over at Lady Bay following their lowly finish last time around?
“We want to be pushing for the top half of the table, even towards the top, and we always back ourselves, but, we have to stay true to ourselves as a unit to do that. “
Nottingham Rugby, with two-wins-from-two, make the short trip to Doncaster Knights next, on Saturday 4 November; keep up-to-date with all the goings on at the Archers via their socials on Facebook here and Twitter here and through the club website here.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NottinghamRugby Nathan Tweedy in action for Nottingham.