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Walking Rugby helping change lives

10/05/2019

A first national Walking Rugby festival kicked off last week's Road to Principality series of community festivals, finals and one-off matches.

Whether you have won Grand Slams like JPR Williams or never touched a rugby ball before, like 84-year-old Frances Jones, Walking Rugby is getting people active physically, socially and mentally all around Wales.

Anyone can play walking rugby, with an emphasis on helping to get Wales’ senior generation more active and also more connected socially.

It is proving a lifeline for some, like 70-year-old Henry Swift from Newport who has joined the Torfaen Dragons in Cwmbran.

“I played rugby most of my life until I got a bit older and you don’t get out so much. Walking rugby has enabled me to enjoy some dressing room banter again and getting to play on Principality Stadium pitch is a dream for anyone!”

Henry found he’d got into a rut and Walking Rugby has helped no end.

“It’s been fabulous. Things hadn’t been great for me due to mental health issues. I tend to shrink away a bit, stay on my own out of the way, but the rugby community brings you together, involves you. It’s inclusive and I feel ok.

“Physically I keep myself fit but mentally I was in a bit of a bad place with nothing really going on and no one to talk to, other than the GP and sometimes you have to wait a long time for an appointment.

“I felt I didn’t fit in anywhere and I found things difficult but the guys at walking rugby know me, I don’t make a secret of my issues there – if you feel like you want to talk you can or if others want to talk to me they can too.”

Eight groups took part in the first national Walking Rugby festival, as part of the Road to Principality series of community festivals, finals and one-off matches.

JPR Williams, who is part of the Pontyclun group said, “I thought I’d give it a go and I enjoy it, it encourages players to move the ball! There are no winners, it’s just a bit of fun and as people get on in age they can still participate.”

Frances Jones, 84, is part of the Cambrian walking rugby group. She said, “I was encouraged to give it a go and so I thought why not. Your health is your wealth, you only have one body and you have to look after it so here I am!”

Working with groups like Men’s Sheds, Torfaen Leisure Trust, Aberystwyth University and People & Work along with rugby clubs and other sports and community organisations, there are currently Walking Rugby groups running in Aberystwyth, Cambrian, Cardiff, Cwmbran, Llanelli, Pontyclun, Pontypridd, Treorchy and Ynysybwl. GPs, such as in Cwm Taf Health Board are even referring patients to walking rugby groups for its physical and mental health benefits.

It's also National Walking Month, there's no better time to give Walking Rugby a go. To find out how to get involved, contact participation@wru.wales

To discover more about Torfaen Dragons click HERE 

I played rugby most of my life until I got a bit older and you don’t get out so much. Walking rugby has enabled me to enjoy some rugby again...
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