"My first custom OPRO was, I think it was...England 16s...and I still have it. It's probably one of my favourite bits of kit."
Watch Sale Shark's Ben Curry tell us about his journey with OPRO from grassroots level rugby to playing professionally with England Rugby.
From the playful skirmishes in garden cricket to the roaring stadiums of international rugby, the journey of rugby star Ben Curry is a testament to passion, dedication, and resilience. Growing up, sports were an integral part of life. Whether it was football, cricket, or even a stint at netball, the competitive spirit was always alive. But rugby? That was the heart's true calling.
The sibling rivalry with his brother Tom was fierce and fun. Victories in backyard games were celebrated with cheeky pranks, like locking the losing sibling out. Their father, their first coach, often had to intervene, especially during their early rugby days. Starting with tag rugby, the game's complexity grew, and so did their skills. By the time tackling was introduced, our protagonist was the fly-half, masterfully dodging contact.
The progression through the rugby ranks was a natural one. From school to county, and then joining Sale Sharks at a tender age of 14/15. The journey through England's age-group teams - the U16s, U18s, and U20s - was marked with growth, learning, and an ever-burning passion for the sport. Today, with over 150 appearances for Sale Sharks, the journey feels both long and fleeting.
OPRO has been a silent guardian in this journey. The first custom OPRO mouthguard, received during the England U16s, is a cherished memory. It wasn't just protective gear; it was a badge of honour, a symbol of pride when playing schoolboy rugby. And while major injuries have been thankfully avoided, there were close calls, like the training incident with Peter Stringer. The trust in OPRO's protection was reaffirmed then.
Captaining the U20s in the 2018 rugby championship was a defining moment. Facing a formidable French team in front of a massive, boisterous crowd was a lesson in handling pressure and adversity. Yet, it remains one of the most cherished rugby memories. Another pinnacle was the emotional victory against Wales at the Principality - a dream realised, and a milestone achieved.
To the budding athletes, the message is clear: diversify your sporting experiences. Play everything - from rugby to bowls to golf. It's not just about honing skills but also about broadening horizons, meeting diverse people, and gaining invaluable life experiences. Setbacks are inevitable, in life and sports. But it's the ability to bounce back, to grow from adversities, that truly defines a champion. In the world of sports, where challenges are daily occurrences, this resilience becomes the cornerstone of success.