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Player becomes dance leader at World Cup
6:00am Saturday 26th October 2013 in News
FOR every Rugby League player, to perform for their country in a World Cup on home soil would be the pinnacle of their sporting career.
At the age of 33, Jon Beney, a former Hull Kingston Rovers Academy player, will finally get that chance – but as a dance leader.
Beney will choreograph the exciting dance programme that forms part of the dramatic pre-match entertainment ahead of the Ruigby League World Cup 2013 match, Papua New Guinea v France at the Robins’ Craven Park stadium on Sunday (4.00pm).
The journey from sporting hopeful to dance star may not be an orthodox career change, but Beney has taken it in his elegant stride.
“It’s a question I get asked all the time,” he said. “But for me it was a really natural progression.
“You’re training your body to the limit, you’re performing in front of an audience, and you’re getting the applause.
“You are looking for that adrenaline, so in terms of the physicality and pushing your body it actually made perfect sense.”
Beney was the 1998 BARLA Player of the Year at under-18 level and had a promising career ahead of him, only to see his dreams fade because of a head injury.
As with many young players who have their careers cut short unexpectedly, Beney struggled to come to terms with the loss, and found watching the game difficult for a number of years.
“I felt really down at first,” said Beney. “I didn’t really watch the game for a long time because a lot of the players that I’d played with were making it as professionals.
“It was tough to watch because I’d always felt that I was just as good if not better than them, so I felt like I should’ve been in their boots. But as the same time I was happy with how my training was going as a dancer.”
The injury in a Rovers Academy fixture was little more than a freak accident which Beney described as “part of the game.” At the time it felt so insignificant that he continued with the rest of the match.
“I went in to tackle someone and my head was at the wrong side in the tackle and I got a knee to the head,” he said. “It didn’t immediately take effect and I carried on playing.
“But it was after the game when I went to A&E and suffered a seizure.
“Initially I was advised not to play again, but I went on to play two more games.
“In my second game back though I took a few knocks to the head and I wasn’t feeling well. My son was about to be born and with all things considered and I decided it wasn’t worth it and went into a career of dance.”
Beney is one of 10 dance practitioners leading the choreography around the dance project for Rugby League World Cup 2013.
As part of the pre-match entertainment for all the World Cup games, local dance groups will take part in a viral dance on the pitch.
Beney happened upon the role of dance practitioner, having originally intended to be part of the opening ceremony in Cardiff.
“I went to the audition to be part of the 50 that are performing in the opening ceremony,” he said. “But when they found out about my background in teaching they didn’t offer me the performance job.
“They offered me the teaching job and I think that having the Hull KR academy stuff on my CV appealed to them as well.”
Interestingly, this is not the first time Beney has linked Rugby League with dancing.
“I got some funding from Hull City council to run summer schools a couple of years ago,” he said. “I went down to teach breakdance at my old Rugby club and when I introduced myself to the lads I got the general response of ‘I’m not dancing.’”
“I said that I used to play Rugby here which they didn’t believe until I showed them a picture of me on the wall with the National Cup, League Cup and Yorkshire Cup so all of a sudden it became cooler for them to get involved in the dance side of things.”
Tickets for the RLWC2013 fixture Papua New Guinea v France at Craven Park, Hull, on Sunday October 27 (4.00pm) cost from just £10 for adults and £5 concessions and are in limited supply. To purchase your ticket buy now at www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.
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