Chris “Rugby is Life” Swaine
Club: Box Hill
Australian Clubs: Box Hill, Vic Masters, Wynnum Manly
UK Clubs: CSM RFC, Camborne RUFC, Cornwall Combination U21, Wibsey RUFC, Knaresborough RUFC
Africa & Asia Clubs: Konkola RUFC, Randfontein Rugby Club, Baku Rugby Club, Yangon Dragons Rugby Club
Position Anywhere in the forwards and running at backs.
Games: Lost count after 1000.
Chris was born in the Yorkshire Pennine village of Clayton in Bradford in the UK. Rugby was not a part of his early childhood and only started playing seriously at University.
At 18 years old Chris left Yorkshire and headed for the infamous Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall to study an Engineering degree in Mining Geology. That’s where the passion and love for the game was developed. The amalgamation of students from all over the UK and overseas in the 300 person college lead to an exceptional 1 XV and 2 XV.
The students were playing in the Cornwall Rugby Division each week against established Cornish players from famous rugby clubs like Redruth, Penzance and learning how to scrummage against 60 stone front rows on a Saturday afternoon.
At 19 Chris was fortunate to travel to Zambia as a student and play rugby for the Konkola Copper Mine while on work experience, and that’s when the value of the game was realised being the only white man in the team and not speaking the local language didn’t matter.
The Bottle Match is the second oldest varsity game of rugby after Oxford vs Cambridge University with the Camborne School of Mines vs Royal School of Mines game first held in 1902. Chris was part of the 94/95/96 teams that won the Bottle.
After graduating in 1996, Chris went to South Africa to work on the Deep Level Gold Mines for a few years and played rugby with Randfontein on the West Rand.
Returning back to the UK, Chris met his beautiful future wife Liz in Ireland while watching the British Lions 2001 series. Love blossomed, and Chris followed his heart to Melbourne to be with Melbourne girl – Liz. They settled in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and raised a family (close to the rugby club LOL).
In 2009 Chris was very sick and one-day he tried to leave this world with a failed suicide attempt. After four months in hospital at the Melbourne Clinic with a variety of treatments including ECT, he began his recovery. Chris had to stop drinking alcohol, working away from home and needed something to take his life forward.Chris says it was Box Hill Rugby Club that really saved him and gave him the opportunity to be a better person.Playing grade rugby at 39 years old for three teams in one day and being so active in the Victorian Masters Rugby community that helped him beat depression and give me balance and recharge one of his life's “buckets”.
This year after Doctors orders Chris was instructed to have an operation due to too much wear and tear on his body and nerve damage. Knowing his rugby playing days were coming to an end due to doctors orders he made the 2018 season a huge season playing as many games as he could that included a GF win with Souths, something he will cherish.
Those that know Chris often see his “motto” and sign off on all things rugby related which is “# rugby is life”. The reason he says #rugbyislife is because it has saved his life and he is so thankful to part of the world rugby community, Box Hill and the Vic Masters.
Chris wants to give back to the rugby community, Vic Masters and his mates. We will be organising for Chris to speak with the teams at one of the rounds this year on his battles and how he overcame some personal challenges.
Thank you for sharing your story Chris.
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