Active Dearne Community Champion, Sally Corns, has worked alongside Wath RUFC to start a new walking rugby session in the town. Here she tells us the story of the first few months, and how the session has captured the imagination of everyone who has taken part.
As lockdown restrictions eased in May 2021, we were finally able to get our planned walking rugby sessions up and running at Wath RUFC.
Countless meetings over Zoom with an all-inclusive plan to get people back into rugby and many revised start dates, we were ready. Armed with a helpful grant from Sport England for kit and a group of experienced and enthusiastic coaches, we stocked up on sanitiser and headed for the pitch.
We had no idea what to expect at the first session. Having put the word out to retired players and those returning from injury through Facebook, we had a few positive responses and a great deal of maybes.
We kicked off with nine. Three coaches consisting of two first team players and the club President who hadn’t played rugby for 30 years due to a rugby related knee injury. There were two ex-players, two first teamers who had just finished training and the wife of one of these players who I pulled off the sidelines as moral support for me – a 36-year-old female who has always been surrounded by rugby but never played the game.
It was clear from that first session that walking rugby was going to be massive! There was so much laughter and fun, but it was the encouragement, teamwork and positivity that really shone through. Everyone left after working up a sweat and a smile. I knew they would be back.
Numbers have increased week on week, testament to the spirit and enthusiasm of the players and the coaches, which hooks people from their first session.
News of the ‘Wath Warriors’ spread through the club bringing in senior and junior team parents, friends of friends from various teams around South Yorkshire, and all the maybes began to turn into ‘when can I starts?’
We knew we could bring old players back but what we didn’t expect was the amount of family time that would be generated. Several couples and families all play alongside each other. This is great because it creates much better rivalry on the pitch.
The benefits of walking rugby go far beyond fitness and helping people recover from injury. It has built confidence in those who lost it playing, and those who have never thought they could play.
The session has started to feed some of our senior teams as people have grown in confidence and ability. It has also given the mums, wives, and girlfriends a chance to move from the sidelines and into the action!
There is also a social side to be had on the other side of lockdown. Teammates meet regularly for a coffee or a pint post session. There is a massive buzz within Wath RUFC around walking rugby, and I would recommend to any club to give it a go!
If you would like to come down and give walking rugby a go we meet 12.15 at the rugby pitch on Recreation Road every Saturday.
If there are any Walking Rugby teams out there who would be happy for us to join one of their training sessions or organise a friendly game, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org