The Dragons Walking Rugby Festival was a huge success as teams from across the region took part in the tournament at Rodney Parade on February 4.
Walking Rugby has taken off throughout Wales in the last 12 months and is benefitting participants in more ways than one.
Players enjoy a non-contact and slower paced version of rugby and enjoy clear benefits to their physical health and also social and mental health benefits from joining a team and, vitally, staying involved.
The number of teams in Wales has grown with a range of organisations from rugby clubs to charities, Health Boards and third sector bodies providing community-based opportunities and engaging more than 300 participants on a weekly basis.
The Dragons Walking Rugby team, in association with NHS Wales, play at Rodney Parade every Tuesday afternoon under our #JerseyForAll banner as we look to support health and wellbeing.
And the team was joined for an inaugural festival in Newport recently by Torfaen Dragons, Cambrian, Upper Rhondda, Rhigos, Kingswood, Crickhowell, Pontyclun, Whiteheads and Broad Plain Pioneers.
While the format of Walking Rugby is fully inclusive to all ages, genders and abilities, its main appeal is to Wales’ older and socially isolated population.
More than 877,000 people are over 60 in Wales - just under 30% of the population - and that figure is expected to rise to over one million by 2030.
Social isolation and mental health issues are a real issue and so the Aneurin Bevan Mental Health Unit has worked with Dragons Community to set up the team that trains weekly at Rodney Parade.
Kevin Hale, Community Support Worker for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board Forensic Psychiatry Service, said: “From a mental health point of view it’s been priceless, the social benefits in particular are tremendous.
“Many of the players were very shy at the start and quite withdrawn, but confidence levels and communication skills have grown massively and they have told us Walking Rugby has helped them in other areas of their lives.
“It started off as a means to get some of our service users active and also to have some social time afterwards to discuss any issues they’re having.
“It’s gone from strength to strength and we’ve opened up the opportunity so that anyone can join us at Rodney Parade on a Tuesday afternoon.”
To discover more about Walking Rugby with Dragons CLICK HERE
From a mental health point of view it’s been priceless, the social benefits in particular are tremendous...