Ahead of Bath Rugby’s trip to his old stomping ground at the Madejski this Saturday, Rec favourite Matt Garvey speaks about fatherhood and how his return to play last weekend was a long time coming.
The reception I got from the crowd last Saturday was humbling
I played 20 minutes and it was good to be back. The atmosphere, the dressing room, the training week – you miss those things. When you’re doing rehab and weights, you’re not following the same schedule as the rest of the squad; you don’t interact as much. I was out for a long time, but that makes it even more special when you walk into the changing room and then run out at the Rec. I was chuffed by the noise of the crowd when I came on.
The support I got on social media was uplifting
When you’re in rehab and you’re out of the public eye, you think that you’re forgotten. The amount of messages I received when the squad was announced for Falcons was magnificent.
Injury and fatherhood combined perfectly for me
It was good timing. My daughter was born on the Thursday and my operation was on the following Tuesday. In my first two weeks after the operation I was in a cast, so I couldn’t really do anything. It meant I got two invaluable weeks with the baby. After some dark days after my injury – dwelling on all the hard hours of rehab I’d done already, getting back into the team, only for the injury to reoccur – it put things in perspective. When she was born, it changed everything.
My ankle injury allowed me to improve other areas of my body
I did a lot of conditioning work on my upper body to reach some goals in that area, such as getting more explosive. I hit a few personal bests, which was pleasing. As time went on, I started doing more work on my recovering leg, in order to match the power in both legs. Now it’s all about getting my lungs working!
You don’t often see as many injuries in one position like we’ve had
Although we had so many back row players injured, what was great to see was that the young boys who had to fill the shirts more than held their own. Academy players like Charlie Ewels, Tom Ellis and Max Northcote-Green all put big performances in. I sat in on a good few meetings and offered some opinions, did my lineout analysis with them, but they’re very quick learners and there wasn’t too much that I had to say. It got to the point where it was a bit nerve-wracking toward the end of my rehab when I was wondering if I’d get my shirt back…
I enjoyed the pain on Sunday morning
I woke up feeling like one giant bruise, but it’s a good feeling. This is what we do, this is what we enjoy doing. More importantly, I got through the game against Falcons unscathed. It’s quite a mental thing, because in my last match before that I got through only four-and-a-half minutes before I got injured again. When an injury reoccurs it’s tough to deal with, but sometimes you need to throw yourself in at the deep end.
The Madejski Stadium holds a lot of fond memories for me
I’m very close with a lot of people at London Irish, particularly players like Darren Allinson and Topsy Ojo. I speak to those boys a lot. It’ll be good to see some familiar faces, and there are a lot of people behind the scenes that I’m quite close to. But there’s no room for sentiment. They’re standing between us and four points and we’re down there to do a job.