“As you get older and particularly when you retire from work, your social circle shrinks so it’s very important to get out and meet people. Exercise in itself is great for physical and mental well-being but we also have a lot of fun and banter, both on the field and off it in our social time.
“Our local NHS actually gave us a grant to help start our Walking Rugby group due to its positive impact on mental and physical health – of older men in particular. There is a lot of loneliness and depression amongst older men – one of our participants told me he doesn’t talk to anyone else during the week other than our group members and the till operators at Tesco. Women often experience similar issues, especially as they get older and many of them relish the chance to be part of a rugby team having never had the chance.
“Walking Rugby is certainly for all ages and abilities. JPR Williams comes training with us and we also have a 91 year old who is new to rugby! You don’t need to be too fit to start off with. It’s suitable for those with disabilities and those returning from injury. Given the clear popularity of the sport and growth so far, I can see the number of teams doubling in the not too distant future. There are things we can do to help the sport, for example there could be a specific Walking Rugby coaching course as we don’t need to worry about aspects like line-outs and scrums. But we are certainly on the right road.”
It’s perhaps more important than ever to keep in touch with team members – despite lockdown forcing them to stay at home.
“At the moment we are staying in touch with each other via an active what’s app group, and we organise a weekly quiz on the same time and day as our usual training session to keep that as our Walking Rugby slot.
“I also make an effort to keep in contact with those who don’t make it onto the quiz – current players and those who have stopped playing for whatever reason. That’s what Welsh rugby is all about isn’t it – keeping people engaged – you don’t leave a family.”
There is always a welcome at Pontyclun Walking Rugby – even in lockdown – new participants are encouraged to make contact with Julius and join the weekly quiz, in order to get involved with the social side of the team until rugby activities resume. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
If you live elsewhere and are interested in joining a Walking Rugby group, email email@example.com to find out more and make contact with an appropriate group.
CLICK HERE to watch WRU Entreprise Manager Greg Woods interview Julius on the Coaches’ Corner section of the WRU Game Locker. You will also find more videos with coaches from many aspects of Welsh community rugby.