Place of Birth: Chard
Date of Birth: 16/08/1993
Previous Clubs: Exeter Chiefs, Bath, Launceston, Plymouth
Representative Honours: England Colleges, South West U20s
Best rugby memory: Beating Redruth away at Christmas - what a social!
Sporting hero: Freddie Flintoff
Day job: Quantity Surveyor
Alex Spurdle (first published November 2022)
In his regular column meeting the players, Richard Kitzinger meets up with Titans’ long-serving hooker, Alex Spurdle.
“In 2013,” recalls Alex Spurdle about how he came to join Taunton Titans, “I was in and out of Exeter’s Academy. At times it felt like I was on the cusp. Other times professional rugby seemed a long way off.”
He took matters into his hands. “I approached Yappy [Titans Head Coach, Tony Yapp] about playing a higher standard of rugby. We met up for coffee, somewhere not very flash like Costa at Tiverton Services if I remember. No expense spared.” But something struck a chord with the Chard-born hooker. “We had a good chat and he invited me up to watch the last game of that season against Bournemouth.”
Afterwards, when Yapp asked what he thought about the Taunton brand of rugby, Alex agreed that he liked what he saw but that he liked the coach’s vision too. He wanted a bit more edge in the forward pack and, “I thought I could fit the bill there.”
Over the years, Alex reflects, Taunton RFC has been something of a shop window for boys wanting to kick on in their rugby careers. The likes of Sam Skinner, Jake Woolmore, Stu Townsend and Dan Frost spring to mind. “I did have a couple of chances to move on to higher levels,” he admits, “But at the end of it, I reckoned I was done pursuing that and I would stick with local rugby. I’m Chard born and bred and I stayed with the club and focused on building a career outside of rugby.”
Taunton Titans ticks all the boxes rugby-wise, Alex says. Like so many others, he speaks of “a good bunch of boys” and he references a good number of players he’s encountered in rugby who have subsequently come to Veritas Park and loved it. “The crucial part for me is that everyone here wants to do it for their mates. There’s a good social aspect too – you work Monday to Friday but there’s release on Tuesday and Thursday with training and then the game with the boys on the Saturday.”
Over 100 caps for the club later, there was a moment of realisation last season that he had reached senior player status. “We were on our way up to Caldy,” the 29 year-old recalls, “and Charlie Williams asked me, ‘Do you realise you’re the oldest player here by five years?’” The hooker thought he was being funny but Williams had worked out that he was the second oldest in the match squad, making Spurdle very much the veteran. “I was glad when Gary [Kingdom] came back into the team, taking that ‘old bloke’ tag off my shoulders!”
“There was a time when me, Freddie Fraser, Toby East, Nick Mason were the youngies when Yappy finishes training with an ‘oldies versus youngies’ challenge but we’ve all bumped out of that group now. We’re supposed to show the way a bit more now, not so much standing back and taking the mickey. But it’s good because the group from 2013 have seen Yappy’s vision and Browner’s [Chris Brown, Forwards Coach] vision of where they want the team to go. Especially last year you saw it come to fruition.”
That core group who have come through together over a number of years led, he says, to a feeling of security, of knowing that when the team’s in a tight spot, the ranks would close and they’d be there to support one another to a better place. “Then other guys with youth but big experiences like Charlie Wright have come in and augmented what the team can offer.”
Introduced to the sport from the very earliest age-group by his brother, Alex admits to being a bit of a trouble-maker in his school days. He confesses, “Rugby was a way of releasing some anger, so to speak.” Now living in Lyme Regis, Spurdle runs his own construction company which gives him a bit of leeway in arranging his diary to fit Titans commitments.
With a degree in Quantity Surveying from University of the West of England and working towards his RICS Chartership, he set up N&G Groundworks in early 2021. He professes to borrowing a lot from the core values of rugby in his business life. “Build a good team around you, you can go far. I’ve learnt from Browner about motivational speaking and from how Yappy delivers information. I’ve picked up things from numerous captains and that’s how I put together delivering a gameplan for work.”
The business is going well he reports. “I set little milestones and tick them off,” he says. Again he references the discipline of training for rugby and the need to lead from the front as Director of his own company. Current projects including building the wine-tasting barn for a vineyard near Charmouth as well as builds at Crewkerne and Beaminster.
The overwhelming impression he leaves is of someone very content in his work/life balance and who is very adept at picking up lessons from different spheres and applying them across aspects of his life. With hopefully a few more years of playing rugby left in the tank, Alex is enjoying being a senior player at Veritas Park and helping the club improve year on year.
Richard Kitzinger is writing in our match day programmes as well as on the Taunton RFC website. Richard is a Will Writer and all club members are entitled to a 20% discount on Lasting Powers of Attorney with him. Call him on 07504 991893.