Place of Birth: Marmaris, Turkey
Date of Birth: 04/06/1998
Previous Clubs: Bath Rugby
Representative Honours: England (U16-U18s)
Best rugby memory: Scoring a try on debut for Bath
Sporting hero: Nick Mason
Will Vaughan (published February 2023)
In his regular column meeting the players, Richard Kitzinger chats with former Titans junior, Will Vaughan, who has returned to the club this season.
Will Vaughan arrives for our chat wearing a Jersey Reds top. Now, I knew he’d been at Veritas Park as a junior and had gone to Bath for a number of years but my research didn’t turn up any involvement with the Channel Islands side. He chuckles and tells the story of getting the call from a mate when the Reds were short of a loosehead. Will had been out for the whole season with a wrist injury – and the previous one had been lost to Covid – so he jumped at the chance. Or rather he flew over to Jersey and played just the one game.
It was Vaughan’s mother who made him give rugby a go. He was at Heathfield School and so Taunton was his local club. “I was quite big,” he admits, “But I gave it a go and I was really bad. But I kept playing. Jason Wallace was my coach here. I stuck at it for a couple of years and lost a bit of weight.”
It was when he reached his full height that he realised that there was something in the game for him. Playing at number 8, he began to run over opponents and, judging from the relish with which he recounts that, it was quite enjoyable. “We had,” he says, “A good year at school. We beat Millfield Seconds one year which was quite impressive. We went to the Rosslyn Park Sevens – that was not quite as much fun!”
His performances at Taunton drew the attention of Bath Rugby. They signed Will at the age of 17 and converted him into a prop. The position was new to him but he clearly wasn’t getting any taller so destiny seemed to be calling him to the front row. He watched a lot of footage of some of the world’s best and cites English World Cup winner Phil Vickery and South African legend Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira as particular role models in terms of helping his transition to serious scrummaging.
Having recently captained Taunton Titans for the first time in the league fixture at Cinderford, Will’s career has already completed a circle of a sort. His rise through the youth ranks at Taunton led to selection for district sides, then county and by the age of 14 he was in the Bath pathway. “I was in Filton College, aged 17 and was quite shocked to get offered a contract,” he recalls of the day he turned professional. “I was never looking likely to get signed but they must have wanted to turn me from a big lad into a front row unit.”
He made 15 first team appearances for Bath. One of them was in the Champions Cup against Leinster. “I got five minutes off the bench at the end of a 60-0 drubbing. I can’t be 100% sure but I think I came on at centre,” he recounts improbably. “We’d had so many injuries and we couldn’t bring people on so I ended up getting subbed on for Max Clark but then I ended up being in the line-outs.”
A fonder memory was his full debut for Bath at The Rec. The opposition was London Irish and he scored a try. “We won by a cricket score. It was the last game of the season too so I spent at least three days celebrating,” Will quips. Mostly, though, he was restricted to Premiership Cup fixtures and a lot of A League games.
Unlike a great many players leaving the fully professional ranks, Will has found the transition into working rugby into a routine alongside a day job “Surprisingly easy”. He’s working in his girlfriend’s bakery in Yeovil. “I do the early shift and then I’m done by about one or two o’clock,” he says of the new lifestyle. “I’m up at 4am so training nights are a struggle.”
Now 24, Will met his other half, Charlie, six years ago through fellow ex-Bath prop Sam Nixon. Alongside working in her family bakery, Pete’s Bun Shop, he is getting a mobile pizza business up and running. He has a trailer and is taking bookings for festivals and events.
“I actually had another year left at Bath on my contract but they told me I wasn’t in their plans. I could have hung around or left early. I chose to leave early. I’m not going to be somewhere I’m not wanted.” His return to Taunton Titans means he gets to play in front of his family who are all still in Taunton and always come to support him at home games. Combining semi-pro rugby with a new career seems to be working well for him. Will has jumped with both feet into the chance to work at the bakery and to set up his pizza business.
“I’ve always fancied working in food. So, I’ve left one thing I always wanted to do and now I’m doing something else I always wanted to do – and I still get to come here to Titans and do the first thing so it’s the best of both worlds.”
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.