The Big Interview: Bath Rugby prop Will Vaughan
Bath Rugby prop Will Vaughan has certainly had the dream start to 2019.
The 20-year-old, alongside his Bath Academy teammate Miles Reid, has successfully bagged himself a senior deal and will be promoted to the Bath first-team for the 2019/20 season.
Vaughan has played in the first-team on occasion over the past two seasons and made his debut in Bath’s Anglo-Welsh Cup win over London Irish in November 2017.
Having been a part of the academy since he was 14, the former England under-16 and under-18 was evidently thrilled to be playing in the first team of his boyhood club.
“It’s a dream come true! I’m really looking forward to it,” explained Vaughan.
“To play for your boyhood club means everything to me.
“My family and friends were over the moon. My mates thought that because I was playing a bit in the first team anyway, they assumed that’s where I was. I had to explain to them that I was actually in the academy.
“My mum was delighted. She made that pretty well known. My Grandad was happy. He doesn’t show much emotion, so I got a handshake I think.”
Vaughan accredits his journey into rugby to his mum giving him a gentle nudge in the right direction.
He added: “My Mum forced me down the training ground. She saw that I was quite a big kid and needed to do something really and she forced me out of the car and told me to go run around with them.
“I wasn’t too good for the first few years and then luckily, I started to develop a bit.”
While playing for the Bath Academy, Vaughan started off playing as a No.8 but was moved to prop by then academy boss and former British & Irish Lions lock Danny Grewcock.
He continued: “I remember we were down a player and I was always a fairly big No.8 and Danny Grewcock said, ‘Vaughany you’ve got to play prop this game’ – and you don’t really say no to Danny Grewcock!
“I shot myself in the foot a little bit because apparently I played quite well there! That’s just where I have been ever since and I’ve never looked back.
“As long as I was playing for Bath Academy, I didn’t really mind where I played.
“I think if someone sees potential elsewhere then you just have to listen to them and give it a try at least. I thought it was brilliant.”
Bath currently sit eighth in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table and bottom of their Premiership Rugby Cup pool, and cannot progress to the semi-finals of the competition.
Future stars? 🌟
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 25, 2019
But for Vaughan, who played in Bath’s rival clash against Bristol Bears in the league at the start of the season, believes the prospect of playing in a Derby Day clash against Gloucester on Saturday means everything to the players and fans alike.
He said: “At the end of the day we are playing Gloucester and it’s a local derby.
“I think the fans care more about this game than the Toulouse away game. It’s something we really want to win.
“I played against Bristol at the start of the year and it was an absolutely huge event. I would recommend going to watch it because there’s just that added bit on top.
“There’s nothing that hostile, it’s just the added bit of competitiveness and something that is really great for the fans and players.”
In his many years at Bath, Vaughan has grown and developed immensely as a player and he praised the willingness of teammates and coaches in helping him to improve his game.
But the prop maintains there are areas of his game that he could enhance as he looks to make himself more of an established member of Bath’s first team.
He added: “I have learnt that you can’t just focus on your main skill set. There is so much more to the game of rugby at this level. I always thought that this is what I’m good at and that’s the way it is.
“Learning off players is important, Nathan Catt especially. He takes a lot of time out of his day to help me improve.
“All you’ve got to do is ask and they will be happy to help. Everyone’s on the same page trying to make everyone better.
“For a prop, it’s about your set-pieces, scrums and line-outs. That is something I have worked on a lot since coming to the club. I wouldn’t specifically say it’s a weakness but then again it’s not an absolute strength. So, that needs work on.
“I’ve had a few opportunities, mainly at the start of the year and I think I took them well. I’m building on the performances I have had for the first team and incorporating it in training. I think it’s been my most successful year so far.”