This week we managed to have a sit down and a coffee with summer arrival from the Army, Bombardier Pete Austin.
A hooker on the rugby pitch yet a HVM Operator in the Royal Artillery. “HVM stands for High Velocity Missile”. Austin is clearly familiar with high pressure situations.
He explains his role simply and succinctly “I’m the guy who sits in a tank and gets told whether or not to engage with an aircraft”.
Pete has spent five years with the Royal Artillery and has been granted a year by the Army to explore this rugby opportunity with London Scottish.
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Austin spoke very highly of the Forces, “I am super grateful to The Army and everything they have given me over the last five years, I loved being in the Royal Artillery and have learnt some invaluable skills and life lessons over the last five years.” Austin continued to be thankful to the services, “I really appreciate the kindness they have shown me in allowing me to come and join London Scottish this year!”
After spending a while with London Irish coming through their AASE programme and being part of the academy, Pete has snapped up the opportunity this year to sign his first professional rugby contract.
An experienced rugby player Pete explained his previous rugby exploits, “I did the AASE scheme and was part of the London Irish Academy programme then I spent some time over in New Zealand with Hawkes Bay”.
Austin has joined the Scots this season along with two other servicemen, fly half Owain Davies and prop Gareth Smith. “It makes adapting to new surroundings easier obviously with them there. Myself and ‘Taff’ (Owain) were in the same regiment and we travel to and from training together, it makes life easier.”
Austin, Davies and Smith are all balancing family life in and around their training commitments. Austin has a wife and young son living down in Portsmouth. He smiles as he chats about his family saying that people are now familiar with his son after his cute cameo on Sky Sports, when the Scots played Ealing Trailfinders, where Austin and his son were seen walking hand-in-hand into the ground.
Pete spoke of the toils of a 12 week pre-season and the strain it put on family life, “that time was difficult, we travelled a lot more often but with Wednesday and Friday off in-season, we can see the family then and make up for missed quality time during the rest of the week.”
Looking forward, Pete was forthright in his ambitions for the year, already looking to build on his Greene King IPA Championship appearances from the bench so far this year. “Obviously I want that starting role and a successful season with the boys would be brilliant. First things first however, we are looking to string some wins together in the league and build from there.”
A well-liked individual in the London Scottish squad and a family man enjoying life in a professional environment, Austin adds a lot to the Scots. His explosive ball carrying and transferrable leadership qualities from the Forces, make him a key member to an ever-developing London Scottish squad.
Even when asked the probing questions, Austin was calm under pressure, something you would expect from a tank missile operator. Posed the question, “what’s a higher pressure situation? Hitting your man in the lineout on your own 5 metre line to win against Richmond or being in the tank and engaging aircraft?”.
Austin gave the correct answer. “Without question I would go with the lineout, pressure would really be on then!”.
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