Rugby star began life in Lowood

TOM Court is a highly successful international rugby union player based in Ireland and playing regularly for Ulster Rugby Club as well as the Irish National team.

Few people realise however that Tom is Australian and even closer to home, he hails from Lowood and lived in the area for most of his life.

Tom was born in Brisbane in 1980 and grew up on a small farm in Brightview with his family where he recalls running around and playing in the paddocks with his brother, Steve and sister, Caroline.

Tom attended Lowood State School and Lowood State High and often spent time in Gatton where his father worked at David Evans Group.

Tom grew up admiring rugby league players like Mal Meninga and Allan Langer and described his beginnings in rugby union as very unusual compared to most top level players.

“While I was completing my post-graduate degree in organisational psychology at the University of Queensland in St Lucia, I was training as a shot putter and was ranked sixth in Australia after competing in shot put for the past five or six years,” Tom said.

“I missed out on qualifying for the World Student Games and weighed around 140kg with a blood pressure level of 165/110 when the doctor told me to either lose some weight and start some cardiovascular exercise or go on medication.”

With that ultimatum and upon seeing a flyer in the UQ gym inviting people to join the University's rugby team, Tom decided to try the sport.

Then aged 24, Tom had never played rugby before and began as a tighthead prop in the sixth grade team.

For a player who eventually made it to international rugby, to be charging up the middle of the field in the sixth grade competition, Tom has come a long way and at that stage in his rugby career, it surely must have been terrifying for any opposing forwards responsible for covering the powerful prop.

Tom's rugby career took off and he was quickly recruited by high-profiled rugby teams including Manawatu in New Zealand as well as the Queensland Reds.

In 2006 he moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland and began playing for the Ulster Rugby Club where he continues to play as a tighthead or loosehead prop.

Tom qualified to play for the Ireland A team in the Churchill Cup in 2006 and the Irish National Team due to the Irish heritage of his grandfather, Patrick Carey, who was born in Limerick.

“I was very lucky to be a part of the Ireland team to win the Six Nations and Grand Slam in 2009,” Tom said.

“A personal highlight was my first cap for Ireland, which was against Italy during that competition.”

Tom also lists his several shot put wins at the Australian University Championships as sporting highlights.

In fact Tom said that his biggest disappointment in sport was when he realised his dreams of becoming a world class shot putter would never eventuate, yet this setback was bittersweet as it led to his highly successful rugby career.

Tom recently played for Ireland against the Wallabies, a goal he had held since first donning the green shamrock jersey.

“It was a fantastic feeling but I had mixed emotions during the national anthems,” he said.

Tom, who lives with his wife Cath and 14-month-old daughter Madeline, credits his parents Nora and Barry as being instrumental in his life and rugby career.

“Being successful at sport is a mix of hard work, perseverance and maybe a bit of luck.”

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