Date of Birth: 26/11/1995
Place of Birth: Exeter
Previous Clubs: University of Exeter
Previous Clubs: England Students
Profession: PE Teacher
Personal Rugby Highlights: Being promoted to National League One with the Titans, Representing England Students, Captaining University of Exeter 1st XV
Sporting Hero: Thierry Henry
A hard-working member of the Front Row Union, George has been named captain of the Titans for Taunton's debut season in National League One. Head Coach Tony Yapp endorsed him, saying, "George rolls his sleeves up and gets on with things and we like that. He doesn't say a lot but when he does speak, people tend to listen and that's what we want in a leader."
George Gosling (first published February 2023)
In his regular column meeting the players, Richard Kitzinger chats with Titans’ captain, George Gosling.
When George Gosling was appointed captain of Taunton Titans a season and a half ago, I recall Tony Yapp explaining that his new leader was a man of few words but one who will lead by his actions and, when he does speak, people will listen. It hasn’t escaped my attention that Gosling is unfailingly one of the first to arrive for training – this time though he sits down for a chat with me about his rugby background.
A product of the highly successful Teignmouth RFC, Gosling started his rugby journey there simply because he went to school in the town. He played rugby in school and found he preferred it to football where, “I’d become fed up with being centre back all the time.” He therefore gravitated towards Teignmouth RFC’s youth section.
At the rugby club he was in the year group between Joe Simmonds (one age group down) and Sam Simmonds (a year older) but played up in Sam’s age group quite a lot. He says, of the future British and Irish Lion, “We got the ball to Sam and he did the rest. He may as well have been fly half – it was all about getting the egg to him as quickly as possible.”
Regulars on match days at Veritas Park will be familiar with George’s parents, Jane and Dave Gosling who rarely miss a pre-match carvery and are amongst the most vocal of the supporters once the whistle blows. From them George learnt about commitment to his rugby, acknowledging that they were always there to take him to training and support him in games no matter the weather or the time.
After school he continued his rugby progress at Exeter College, reaching the final of the Daily Mail Vase competition. They beat Wirral Grammar School in the semi-final at Allianz Park, home of Saracens and advanced to the final at Twickenham. “We scored with the last play of the game,” he recalls of the big dance with Trent College from Nottingham. “But unfortunately the kick to win it from the touchline was short, leaving us behind by a point.”
It was a good experience and some of his best mates remain those with whom he enjoyed that run to rugby headquarters. It wasn’t to be his only brush with national success as, moving on to a Sports Science degree at St Luke’s College, he established himself as hooker in the University of Exeter 1st XV. “We won back-to-back BUCS [British Universities] league competitions. I even scored twelve or thirteen tries, although all bar one of them was at the back of mauls so I don’t want to flatter myself too much.”
“The year after I was lucky enough to be selected as captain. It was a tough year as I was doing my PGCE to become a teacher, but we won BUCS – and then I broke my thumb for the second year running.”
“I was over in Berlin at the Christmas markets,” he says of how he found out about selection for England Students, “And an email came through inviting me to a training day at Stourbridge. From there it was over to France for a couple of games against French Universities in Chambéry. We lost both games narrowly – they were a massive, physical side.”
There was a common thread to the Exeter College and Exeter University experiences: at the former he was coached by Chris Brown, at the latter by Tony Yapp. It’s no wonder that he plays his rugby at Taunton RFC. “Browner got me up to Taunton to train. I did a lot of travelling reserves and played only two games. My debut was away at Canterbury and I was yellow-carded after just 30 seconds for using my hands in a ruck! I blame Sam Skinner who was next to me in the ruck.”
During his university years, Gosling would train with Taunton before the academic term began meaning, “I’ve done a lot of TRFC pre-seasons for not many seasons actually played here!” It did mean that he was familiar with the set-up by the time he graduated and pledged his rugby to Titans. Now 27, the team skipper teaches PE at the highly regarded Colyton Grammar School.
His commitment to rugby is something the school has been supportive of; timetabling allowing him to make training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and, when necessary, covering him for those Friday afternoons off for distant league fixtures at the likes of Leeds, Darlington and Sale. In return, TRFC has been understanding of his duties as a teacher when Parents’ Evenings clash with training nights.
“When you’re playing at a good level and you enjoy the club, you don’t mind the extra bit of driving you do sometimes. I like coming here and getting to hear someone else’s voice other than my own taking the coaching.” One of his Colyton charges, Taine Benson, has begun to make his way in the game too, representing Taunton Warriors this season.
“The students do know I play in the National Leagues for Titans,” he says. “Somehow the teamsheets do get shown around and they ask me why if I’ve been dropped to the bench. I have to use it as a chance to explain to them that the other guy has fought for the position and got it on merit. There’s a lesson in every situation!”
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.
Gosling is Top Gun (first published September 2021)
“An honour and a privilege” are the first words that come to mind for new Titans skipper George Gosling when asked about his elevation to the captaincy. It wasn’t what he was expecting when he saw it was Head Coach Tony Yapp calling, “Tony phoned me at the start of the week. I thought it was a check-up from the weekend’s tough game down at Redruth but he asked me if I wanted to be captain and there wasn’t much thinking to do. I accepted it there and then.”
A loyal club man who played his rugby for Taunton both before and after his studies at Exeter University, George describes laughter and camaraderie as key features of the Titans set up and insists that keeping the humour there is going to be important on his watch. Once the team takes to the field though, being a role model and a leader is uppermost in his thoughts and he acknowledges that it’s good to have plenty of other leaders around him. George’s duty, he says, is to give everyone else the opportunity to let their qualities and strengths come out, “I want to help bring the best out of everyone in the whole squad because that’s what counts for the overall team effort.”
George’s leadership credentials were obvious to Tony Yapp who had worked with him at Exeter University where Gosling was also captain. “He doesn’t talk too much,” says the Titans’ Head Coach, “but when he does, people tend to listen.” Not just his words, but his actions also make him a natural choice to be first out of the tunnel, “Gos rolls his sleeves up and gets on with it, leading by example, which we like as well.”
Whilst Yapp acknowledges that the coaching group is blessed to have players across the park who are leaders, it was Gosling’s ability to take on the added pressure of being captain and to continue to think strategically about the game that made him, “the ideal choice to lead us into a new league”. Gosling certainly sounds prepared for the task ahead commenting, “Sometimes things get tough, the skipper’s got to be that person who brings everyone round and sets out how we can get back into it.”
Running out at the front of the Taunton Titans side for their debut in National League One will carry some prestige. “When that time comes,” George smiles but with steely determination in his eyes, “it’ll be a proud moment.”