Hero photograph
Photo by Mark Ealey

Snippets from Old Boys

Mark Ealey —

Q&A with old boy Dominic Gardiner fresh from his debut for the Crusaders vs Moana Pasifika

Q: What have been the key features of your rugby journey since leaving school? 

A: Since leaving school there have been a variety of key features to my rugby journey. One of these is having been part of the Crusaders Academy. Fortunately, when I finished school, in Year 13, I was invited to join the Academy. It was a full year-round training commitment which taught me good training habits and also provided some good structure to my week. Along with this, it provided me with world-class coaching and a pathway within the Crusaders. Another key feature was playing club rugby at Marist Albion. I was a junior player there and so going back was something quite special for me. I got game-time and opportunities through the Club.

Another thing was that I broke my fibula in my first senior club game. This was a challenge for me – it kept me out of rugby for six months, but it gave me an opportunity to enjoy life outside of rugby. But I knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and I used the opportunity to gain size and strength.

Q: How has the Crusaders experience been so far? 

A: My experience in the Crusaders so far has been pretty cool. Obviously, being a 20 year-old, it was pretty daunting entering a world-class environment like that, surrounded by so many world class players, people whom I’ve aspired to be like. But to be honest, they have all been very welcoming and you soon realize that they are just normal people. We had some awesome times down in Queenstown in our own bubble. I managed to play a bit of golf and did some swimming in the lake down there. And of course managing to make my debut was pretty special, something that I’ll remember forever.

Q: Looking back on your time at St Bede’s as a rugby player what advice would you give to a Year 9 player?

A: My advice to any young Year 9 player would be to make sure that you enjoy your rugby. That’s why we all play the game because we love it and we enjoy it. Don’t get too caught up in selections, or what team you’re playing in. But also, if you want to get better you should always have something that you’re working on and you should be pretty deliberate about that. It might be as simple as writing one thing down from the game in the weekend that you did well or one thing that want to work on, and try to incorporate that into your trainings. And also, driving that effort yourself, being responsible for your own learning.

Q: You are a professional rugby player now, but what are you doing outside rugby?

A: Outside of rugby I’m studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Canterbury. That tends to keep me quite busy. In my downtime, I enjoy playing golf on the weekend and spending time with my family. I find that this is a good way to disconnect from rugby. It keeps my mind fresh, so when I go to training on Monday I’m ready to go for the week ahead. I think that even though I play rugby, having goals outside of it is really important, such as studying to get a degree, as my rugby situation could change very quickly with injuries.

Q: Do you have any particularly fond memories you can share with us about your rugby at St Bede’s? 

A: I’ve got heaps of fond memories from my time at St. Bede’s, but one thing that springs to mind is when I was playing U14s, being coached by Mr. Dunne. We had a great team that year, played heaps of fast, running rugby and it was really enjoyable to be part of. Another one would be in my final year, Year 13, playing in a traditional against St. Peter’s College. We'd convinced Mr. Davidson to let the school off at lunchtime so the boys could come out and watch us play. Justin Evans kicked the winning goal with two minutes to go and after that all the boys on the sidelines ran on and congratulated us. It was a special moment that I’ll never forget.