Ben's Biltong - Proud sponsor of Steve Hodge. England Deaf Rugby Squad 2017

Steve's story

I’ve been playing rugby since I was 8 years old, where I came through the old Plymouth Albion junior set up and went on to play for their first team. I was also fortunate to play Devon County under 15s, 16s, 18s, and was captain for the under 19s team. I was then selected for the South and South West division at under 19s and went on to play for the Devon 1st team.

I stopped playing rugby nearly 15 years ago due to commitments of everyday life but returned to the sport a couple of seasons ago and I’ve not looked back since.

After joining Tamar Saracens and helping them to gain promotion, I found out through my former Albion team-mate, that because I had some hearing loss, that there was a possibility that I might be eligible to play deaf rugby.

I had previous complications with hearing loss and in addition to this, I had been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. When the possibility came up for me to play deaf rugby, I went for hearing tests (in order to qualify I needed to have an average of 25db hearing loss bilaterally) and the results confirmed I exceeded this threshold.  Before I knew it, I was invited up to England trials and training sessions and I was fortunate to be chosen to join the England squad- where I made my debut against Wales in January 2017 at the young age of 38! It all seems to be happening later on in life for me and you don’t normally expect to get these chances at my age.

The experience against Wales was just unbelievable, and the opportunity to play for my country was humbling. I had never really heard of deaf international rugby and I feel privileged to be a part of it. It is so strange to have this experience now after having such a long time out of rugby, but I’m enjoying every minute and I'm more determined than ever to train hard so I can hang on to this experience for as long as possible.

I have also been playing at a good level of Vets rugby where I played for Devon Legends against Torbay Sharks at Plymouth Albion, and since then I’ve had a few invitations to play for other vets’ teams. I’ve even got an invite to the Amsterdam 10s.

I am hoping there might be even more unforgettable moments still to come as England have future fixtures against Argentina coming up in August and then a three-Test series against New Zealand where I hope to be involved.

It is great to be working with Ben’s Biltong, who has been kind enough to sponsor and provide me with his biltong. I use biltong as its good way for me to get a healthy snack into my diet which provides me with a good source of protein and nutritional benefits. Having used other biltong in the past, Ben's Biltong is up there with the best and even my South African mates rave about it!!

I would definitely recommend any of his products.