Walking rugby is a relatively new sport that enables older people to keep active and feel part of a team. It’s building on the success of walking football, that has taken off in parks and sports clubs across Wales.
The Commissioner went along to Pontypridd RFC to find out more about how walking rugby is helping to improve the health and well-being of older people in the local community.
The sessions run every Thursday morning from 11am to 12 noon at Pontypridd RFC’s famous home, Sardis Road. The sessions are open to all, both former players and newcomers to the sport. The group at Pontypridd RFC were only the second one established in Wales and the first to be connected to an existing rugby club.
The initiative is supported by local GPs that have invested in developing projects in the area that keep older people active and help tackle loneliness and isolation. Representatives from the Taff Ely GP Cluster and the Chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board joined the Commissioner to see the benefits of walking rugby for older people.
“This is about building people’s health through their own natural ability rather than medicines. It’s about encouraging a healthy life at any age.” Prof. Marcus Longley, Chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board
“The great thing about an initiative like Walking Rugby is that it combines the health benefits with being part of the wider community.” Dr Stephanie Foulkes-Moran, joint cluster lead in Taff Ely and a GP in Talbot Green
Former Wales captain, Ryan Jones, spoke to the players after the session about how the Welsh Rugby Union is looking at ways to roll out walking rugby with partners to communities across Wales.
“Walking Rugby is a brilliant way to include the older generation in the national game in a way which brings social, mental and physical benefits to participants. We are working with various community partners to bring this fun format to new and returning participants.” Ryan Jones, Head of Rugby Participation, Welsh Rugby Union
The Commissioner will be highlighting projects such as walking rugby to the Welsh Government as part of their consultation on their strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation.
Cwm Taf University Health Board has developed a video highlighting the benefits of walking rugby: