From rugby to darts: Rob Cross' incredible journey to Auckland Darts Masters

The Englishman secured his first world title this year.
The Englishman secured his first world title this year. Photo credit: Supplied

Rob 'Voltage' Cross is currently living the dream, playing darts for a living. The 27-year-old went from working as an electrician to world darts champion in less than two years.

Now ranked third in the world, he will be featuring in the upcoming World Series of Darts - which includes stops at of Las Vegas, Shanghai, Brisbane and Auckland.

Earlier this month, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) confirmed Auckland would be one of seven stops in the World Series.

In total, eight top-ranked PDC players including the likes of two-time world champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson will participate alongside eight local qualifiers from each region.

But 10 years ago, Cross might never have been a professional darts player if it wasn't for an unfortunate groin injury he suffered playing rugby.

Speaking to Newhsub ahead of his Premier League clash against former professional rugby player Gerwen Price, Cross talked about his impressive young footy career.

"I played from about 10 for about six years, and I really enjoyed it," he told Newshub.

"I was meant to be going to county level and stuff like that and doing things, but I got that injury which put me off."

But rugby's loss has become darts' gain as he traded in tries for bullseyes - and he is now one of the biggest names throwing tungsten arrows.

However, even that almost never happened.

Two years ago, Cross' uncle Robert drove him to Norwich from his home in Hastings - nearly a four-hour drive - where he participated in the final UK open qualifying event. He was victorious, and that is where the darting journey began.

From rugby to darts: Rob Cross' incredible journey to Auckland Darts Masters
Photo credit: Supplied

He then went on to dominate the PDC's development tour in 2016 - and a year later, he became world champion when he beat 16-time world beater Phil Taylor 7-2 in the final, claiming the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy and £400,000 ($782,846) in prize money.

When he looks back on everything he has achieved since that qualifying tournament, Cross admits it has been a crazy journey - and he never thought he would be getting paid to travel the world playing darts.

"I don't think anyone could have predicted the way the year went last year. It went well, obviously," he said.

"I've managed to have a look back to the start with my darts manufacturer, but it's one of those things where we are not looking back, and we're looking towards the future seeing how much more I can win. That is the only thing you are going to be remembered by.

"It is all new for me this year, and obviously lots of travelling - but in August it's going to be fantastic because I'll be going to places where I have never been before and experience places like New Zealand." 

This year is the fourth that Auckland will host a leg of the World Series. The eight-ranked PDC players will be drawn against local qualifiers which include the top two players from the DartsPlayers New Zealand World Series Qualifiers Merit Table, the top player from DartsPlayers Australia World Series Qualifiers Merit Table, and four Qualifiers - plus one place to be confirmed.

Having been in a very similar situation not long ago, Cross knows he must be at his best facing lock qualifiers.

"I can't take anyone for granted, especially the way I burst onto the scene," he said.

"I think anyone can beat anyone and you never know how they're going to play, so I think you have to play your best all the time.

"I think I'd be fairly naive if I took it lightly thinking I was going to go in there and get a six or seven-nil win."

Even though it is still nearly four months away, Cross is hopeful of doing a bungee jump or something similar after watching a video of fellow PDC star Michael Smith jump off the Sky Tower last year.

"I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie so we will have a look what is there and what we can do," he laughed.

But right now for Cross, his attention is on the Premier League.

Having struggled at the beginning of the 16-week tournament with back-to-back losses, Cross has gone on a four-game win streak and is in third place heading into week seven of the competition, which will take place in Glasgow.

From rugby to darts: Rob Cross' incredible journey to Auckland Darts Masters
Photo credit: Supplied

He has also thrown the most 180s this year - 22 more than closest rival Gary Anderson. 

"Whether it's on the TV or even away from the TV it is all important, it all matters and I need to put on a good show anywhere I go. We will be looking to come out and make sure I'm ready to play well."

But looking back to rugby, Cross tries to watch rugby when he can, but admits it is tough at times due to the schedule of playing darts for a living.

"If the World Cup is on or the Six Nations - I was watching that when I could. But now, I don't get much time to watch sport because it's on the weekend and I'm usually playing darts."

When asked who will win between the All Blacks and England later this year, the Englishman gave a definite answer for New Zealanders.

"I'd have to go the All Blacks."

Cross will be on our shores for the first time later this year for the Auckland Darts Masters, which take place between August 3-5 at the Trusts Arena in Henderson.

At a glance:

PDC Representatives: Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock, Kyle Anderson, Corey Cadby plus one player TBC

Oceanic Representatives: Top two players from DPNZ World Series Qualifiers Merit Table, top player from DPA World Series Qualifiers Merit Table, four Qualifiers plus one place TBC

Ticket information for the event is available at www.pdc.tv/tickets.

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