15th July 2019, 12:59 | masters
Jeff Chappell proudly holds Great Britain Heritage Number 21 gained when he was one of the pioneers of the first ever Masters Rugby League tour to Australia in 2009. He was also the first former GB Masters tourist to be selected to play Australia when he wore Gold shorts in the international at Crosfields in 2014.
"The very first Masters tour was an out of this world experience for everyone on the tour." Jeff reminisced. "I enjoyed representing my country. Who knows when I get to 70 in Green shorts I might get selected again!" he added.
But that's for the future as Jeff recollected that his first memory of Rugby League was as a child in a pram being taken to see his father play at Thornhill Lees.
Jeff's two Uncles also played Rugby League so playing was almost a given for Jeff. His first game was as an 11 year old at school. He progressed up the age groups to U19 before signing for Halifax playing a full season in the 'A' team in 1970-71 and then signing at Dewsbury where he played from 1972-1977.
Gate Inn, the predecessor of Thornhill Trojans, was the next stop for Jeff as he juggled playing Rugby League with his career in the Fire Service for who he also played until he was in his mid-40s. Still wanting to keep fit, Jeff then went to train with Ossett Trinity where at 54 he played his very last game of open age.
Masters was the next stop for Jeff. He read about Masters in the press and decided to have look for himself in 2008. He arrived to "see what it was all about" at a game in Drighlington which Jeff described as "eye opening."
On his return from the 2009 tour of Australia, Jeff set up a Masters team at Ossett and now organises the team. Over 10 years on Jeff is still playing every 2 to 3 weeks and is thriving playing in Gold shorts after what he admits was a hard transition to 'touch tackling' - conceding that its certainly better for his back!
Jeff is enjoying his Masters and the funnier side of the game. His funniest Masters moment was on the 2009 Australian tour when playing in the centre, Jeff put his winger, Chris Cunniff, in to the clear only to see Chris dive over the 20m line!
And Jeff's advice to anyone over 35 is to "get down your local club and check if they have Masters team. It's great. Just get out there!"