BeRugby magazine for your rugby mad kids

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Yorkshire Carnegie rugby
Latest News & Articles

Recycle Possession with Yorkshire Carnegie Community

Yorkshire Carnegie’s Community Team are delighted to announce the launch of Recycle Possession, a new county wide kit donation programme which aims to remove a barrier for people wanting to play rugby union. Recycle Possession will run throughout the season. The aim being that people can donate pre-loved kit which will then be distributed to those who are unable to access suitable clothing which allows them to participate in rugby.


Through our work across the county, we have found one consistent barrier to participation, both in schools and clubs, is the lack of appropriate kit and equipment particularly in the winter months. Recycle Possession hopes to be the solution to this problem.


One programme we hope will benefit from this is the award winning Project Rugby programme which we deliver across the county.  Developed by Premiership Rugby in conjunction with the RFU and delivered by 14 professional clubs, this community participation initiative is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups: Black Asian & Minority Ethnic people, people from Lower Socio-Economic backgrounds and disabled people.Yorkshire Carnegie rugby


Community Programme Manager, Kristian Sharples highlighted how important this programme could be in creating playing opportunities, “It’s not just the physical aspect of giving participants appropriate kit which means they can then safely take part in rugby. It can have a really profound impact on young peoples’ confidence and self-esteem to have some boots or a shirt that they can keep and make their own.


I am really excited about this project. Rugby should be accessible to all and we hope that the wider community will get behind it and support our aim to reduce the barriers to participation.”
The Yorkshire Carnegie Championship Squad members have already been recycling some items of their own, including Sam Allan who has also worked closely with the Community Team on Project Rugby over the last couple of years. “This is a fantastic programme and having coached on Project Rugby, I can really see how it will benefit people. It is great to be able to give something back to the wider community game in this way.”

Recycle Possession will run throughout the 2018/19 season with several ways for individuals and groups to donate. All clean shirts, boots, shorts and further rugby equipment are most welcome. There will be drop off locations at several of our Affiliated Clubs and Schools. There will also be opportunities to donate at all community events including Summer Camps, matchdays and festivals. The team will also be available to come and collect donations from clubs.


For information on Recycle Possession or to arrange a donation visit please contact community@yorkshirecarnegie.com 

Latest News & Articles, Youth Rugby

Book now – Awesome summer rugby camps at London Irish RFC!

Rugby Summer Camps PosterThe London Irish community team are now taking bookings for their ever-popular summer coaching camps which begin in August. 

Designed for U7s–U14s, the camps will take place at eight locations across the region, offering participants a jam-packed rugby timetable and the opportunity to gain tips from professional rugby players during Q&A sessions. 

 

All camps include quality coaching from DBS cleared community coaches from 9.30am-3.30pm and participants will receive a free match ticket to an allocated home game with an accompanying full paying adult. 

“With the school holidays approaching, youngsters love to spend time with their friends and playing sports that they love really fits the bill for all the family – an involved child is a happy child,” said Andy Keast, head of community at London Irish.

“This is the perfect opportunity to cap off a great year for our rugby camps. We have had great numbers at each camp throughout the year and the summer camps are a good opportunity to get a head start before the season starts again.”

Rugby summer campsFor further enquiries email community@london-irish.com or call 01932 750100 and to book, head straight to www.london-irish.com/rugbycamps

 

 

Nigel Owens rugby
Latest News & Articles

Nigel Owens: ‘The next best thing is refereeing’

You could argue that refereeing is one of the hardest jobs in the world, especially in rugby union were the rules are so complex and often see changes season after season.

One decision, whether right or wrong and the thousands of fans in the stadium will be on your back, you need to be able to hold your own.

However, on the other hand you get to be in amongst the action on the some of the biggest stages of them all, World Cup finals, Six Nations clashes, Champions Cup finals. you name it.

Nigel Owens, one of the most recognisable and arguably best referees in the world, admits that not everybody can handle the pressure.

“I think first of all, it is not for everybody,” said the Welshman who refereed the 2015 World Cup Final at Twickenham between New Zealand and Australia.

“People are not going to like you for your decisions, it is a role where people are not going to pat you on the back all the time, they are going to write opinions or shout opinions at you. You have got to be a certain type of person to do it”

Nigel Owen rugbyOwens believes that if you have got what it takes to be at the helm and take control of matches then being a referee comes second after being a professional player.

“On the field the next best thing is refereeing, to be part of those rugby occasions and to be part of the game is amazing,” he added.

The 46-year-old only started refereeing professionally when he was 30-years-old and believes that you shouldn’t become a referee to be a ‘celebrity’ but do it because of your love for the game.

“My advice would be, if you want to be a rugby referee you need to do it for the right reason,” said Owens, who oversaw two games at the 2018 Six Nations.

“Do it because you enjoy refereeing, you are passionate about rugby and you want to be a referee not because you think it will be a job and you will become a famous, well-known person because you are a referee.

“You need to start refereeing because it is an enjoyment and you enjoy it as a hobby and then if you are good at it, and the other opportunities come along for you to become a professional referee then even better, but make sure you start for the right reason.”

Rugby referees are treated with a lot more respect and spoke too by players in a much better fashion than football referees.

Rugby players address the referee as ‘sir’ and don’t give him abuse like in other sports, but when it when it comes to the knowing rules it is a very complicated role.

“I think there’s two things here, rugby referees style depends on how the game goes because the laws are so complex,” he added.

 “there is a lot of grey in rugby which means you have to use your refereeing ability to make a decision. So, refereeing the game itself, I would say is more difficult (than football),”

“Football is more difficult because of the the pressure that is on them from the fans in the stadium, from the managers and from the players, there isn’t the same respect value.

“I think it is different types of difficulties, it is probably more pressure for a football referee to deal with the off the field stuff than the actual decision making on the field.”

It has been suggested that football style back chat is starting to creep into the game of rugby, Owens admits that he has seen an increase of the trait but believes it is down to the referee in charge to stop it from happening.

“I think there is more back chat now, more players tend to come up to you and question your decisions or ask you to check things with the TMO, but I think that’s down to the referee then to be strict enough and say ‘look, this is not happening’, then they tend to respect that and it doesn’t happen.

“But, if you are a referee who allows that to happen, then it will happen in the game, I think there is a bit more of it, so you have got to keep your standards,” he said.

 (This awesome article was written by the brilliant young sports journalist Joel Pattison. Amazing feature photo courtesy of Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images.)

Steph Hanratty rugby
Latest News & Articles

The BeRugby Big Interview – England’s gold medal winner, Steph Hanratty

We met Steph a few months back at a festival at Bury St Edmunds RFC where she kindly agreed to do an interview for BeRugby. After numerous emails and social media messages we finally met up in a little coffee shop in Chelmsford and got to chat.

Steph plays for England Deaf Rugby and Wymondham Ladies and she coaches at Bury St Edmonds RFC. She also plays numerous other sports, has two children Cobey and Bailey, and a job at a pre school near her. One busy rugby mum!

Steph Playing for England Deaf Rugby

BeRugby Magazine – Great to meet you Steph. Let’s get straight to it. How did you get into rugby?

Steph Hanratty – I first started as the football season was finishing and I wanted something to keep me fit. A friend of mine said to come to rugby training so I thought I would give it a go. I was so nervous especially when my friend didn’t even turn up!

BRM – Do you still play any other sports as well as rugby?

SH – I still play football for Walsham le Willows. I used to play basketball for England Dev but had to give it up after I had surgery for a hole in my heart.

BRM – Wow, sorry to hear that. It doesn’t appear to have stopped you!

SH – Unfortunately I had to stop sport for 2 years but have played sport and kept fit ever since.

BRM – So how did you get into deaf rugby?

SH – I was chatting to my friend Sophie from BSE over dinner and she suggested it. I emailed Gina Iaquaniello (the team manager) and she invited me along to a session. That was January 2017 and I have been training and playing ever since. My first game was against Devon on Mother’s Day 2017.

BRM – A lot of people won’t have heard about England Deaf Rugby so can you tell us more?

SH – Most of us play for club sides and then meet up and train with the England deaf team once a month at Bromsgrove RFC in Birmingham. This month we are off to play in a deaf rugby 7’s tournament in Australia!

BRM – So you play in deaf and non-deaf teams. How does deaf rugby differ?

SH – Some would say being deaf would hold me back, but it doesn’t. It probably holds my non-deaf teammates back more when they struggle to communicate with me. Sometimes it’s my fault for not telling people straight away that I am deaf as it can be hard to tell. I am an excellent lip reader, so people may not notice straight away. My advice to any deaf readers is to just put your hand up straight away and say you are deaf and then your team mates and others know. Then just keep doing what you are doing as you are not different.

BRM – How does England deaf rugby compare with your club sides?

SH – They are all awesome, but the coaches at England Deaf do some things slightly differently.  For instance, there is a sign language interpreter there and when the coaching team give talks they will get everyone in a horseshoe shape so that everyone can see them 

BRM – What has been your favourite game to play in?

SH – Funnily enough it was probably my last counties game against Oxfordshire even though we lost! The vibe was great, and we just kept going. It was a close game, but our heads never went down. We didn’t give up and totally should have won.

BRM – Who is the best player you have played with or against.

SH – All the girls I play with are great, but Libby Lockwood is probably one of the best. I play with her at Wymondham. She is so versatile and can play anywhere from 8 to the centres. She reads the game well and gets loads of interceptions. Oh, and she is lovely!

BRM – Do you have any pre-match rituals?

SH – It’s not really a pre-match ritual but I have to wear odd socks. I can’t deal with matching pairs. I also listen to a lot of Blink 182 and my daughter Bailey comes to most of my games. She gives me great advice like “As long as you try your best its good enough for me. But if you score a try it will be better”

BRM – Awesome advice! What do you eat before a big game?

SH – I carb up the day before playing. Generally something like sweet potato and chicken. On the day I like peanut butter and banana on toast.

BRM – You are organising the club tour. Where do you go and why?

SH – Cornwall for the sun and the surf. Its also great fun and relaxed. Camping, rugby and BBQ’s what more do you need?

Steph Hanratty rugby

Steph on the break for England Deaf Rugby

BRM – OK quick-fire round. Who is your favourite player?

SH – Brian O’Driscoll.

BRM – Favourite team?

SH – Saracens women.

BRM – Favourite food?

SH – Sweet potato chips.

BRM – Favourite band?

SH – Blink 182.

BRM – Favourite film?

SH – Pretty woman.

BRM – Favourite holiday?

SH – Any activity holiday. Biking, canyoning etc.

BRM – What one word would you use to describe rugby?

SH – Family.

BRM – Great thanks! Finally, what piece of advice would you give to our rugby mad readers?

SH – Always strive to be your best. If you are better at something than others in your team, help them improve and the whole team will benefit. The better a team player you are, the better a person you become.

 

Steph’s fact file

Born – 14th September 1982. Southwark in London.

Position – Wing/Outside Centre

Height – 1.58m

Weight – 59kg

Current teams – Wymondham RFC, Eastern Counties, England Deaf.

Many thanks to Steph for taking the time to chat to us. Since this interview she has gone on to win gold with the England Women’s Deaf Rugby Team at the first ever World Deaf Rugby Games in Australia! Huge congratulations to her and the rest of the team. England Deaf Men’s narrowly lost in the final but still took home the silver!

 

England Rugby
Latest News & Articles

Check out this awesome Canterbury rugby stash!

As you are probably aware we love a stash review and the brilliant guys at kit giants Canterbury were kind enough to provide us with some of their current England stash to check out.

We like to be fair when we try products out and we have to say that Canterbury kit is quality stash. It’s not cheap but it’s tough, long lasting and you get a lot for your pound. So here is what we tested.

England Thermoreg quarter zip Top, £58, available from www.canterbury.com.

Ideal for the spring evenings. This lightweight top is just right to wear over a t-shirt on your way to the club. The make quality is excellent and the zips on the front and pockets are tough. We do like the alternative yellow as it’s a little bit different, however it is also available in red. Warm in the wind but light enough to wear during a spring sunny spell (if we get one) this is our favourite bit of stash.

England rugby

England Thermoreg quarter zip Top, £58.

 

England Vapodri+ pro SS Training Jersey, £58, available from www.canterbury.com

Again, we trialled it in the yellow, which we really like as an alternative to the red. This top is very comfortable and is thicker than a t-shirt but not as heavy as a jumper. Perfect for the run in to summer. A nice bit of stash for casual clubhouse use.

England Vapodri Polyknit Pant, £40, available from www.canterbury.com

With all these great tops you will be needing an awesome pair of tracky bottoms. These are soft and comfortable for lounging around at home or running around the park. What more can we say? Need some tracksuit bottoms? Get these.

NB.

Thermoreg technology encourages thermal regulation, ideal for cold training sessions on the field

VapoDri features throughout the range, designed to wick moisture away from the body and maintain core temperature throughout gruelling workouts.

England rugby

England Vapodri+ Pro SS Training Jersey, £58

England rugby

England Vapodri Polyknit Pant, £40.

 

Love Sevens? Then Canterbury have you covered.

Rugby clothing and kit provider Canterbury has revealed the new England Sevens kit. The kit will be worn for the first time in Hong Kong and then throughout the remainder of the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.

To help push the players to the top of their game and ensure they excel on the pitch, the new kit features Canterbury’s pioneering fabric technology including, VapoDri, Canterbury’s own technology allowing the user to train harder for longer. With advanced wicking properties, sweat evaporation is boosted, allowing the garment to dry extremely quickly.

England rugbyaesthetic design of the new shirt has been inspired by the disruptive and dynamic style of the England Sevens teams and sevens as a sport, combined with the tradition of England Rugby. The white home jersey features the St George’s cross in dark grey and bright pink, while the alternate jersey features the pattern in bright pink, a traditional symbol utilised in a new, fresh iteration to appeal to fans.

Commenting on the launch of the new range, Simon Rowe, Head of Sports Marketing at Canterbury of New Zealand, said: “We’re very proud of the latest design of the 2018 England Sevens kit. We continue to push the boundaries with our continually evolving innovative technologies which ensure that every player is able to perform to the best of their ability and improve themselves both as individuals and as a team.”

Tom Mitchell, England Sevens captain, commented: “As a player, you feel an immense sense of pride when you put on the England shirt to represent your country and you want to be at your absolute best. It gives us real confidence knowing we are wearing the best possible kit and we look forward to wearing this new kit as we represent England at the Rugby World Cup Sevens this year.”

England Sevens women’s player, Abbie Brown, added: “It’s a big year for sevens, culminating in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July, and every time we pull on the shirt we want to give it our all. Every player in the squad is proud to represent England, put on the jersey and wear the rose.”

The new England Sevens kit is available to buy now in sizes S-4XL at www.canterbury.com and www.englandrugbystore.com

 

Rugby kit
Latest News & Articles

7’s star Burgess aiming for more Olympic glory in 2020

Burgess aiming for more Olympic glory in 2020

Team Great Britain Rugby Sevens star Phillip Burgess was part of the seven-a-side team that won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

It was the first time in 108 years that Team GB was represented at Olympic level rugby and a first for a seven-a-side team.

However, they suffered a 43-7 defeat to favourites Fiji in the final of the tournament.

Burgess is hoping to get picked for the squad to play in Tokyo in two years’ time and believes that rugby sevens can become a long-term Olympic sport.

“Sevens is still involved with the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, post that I am not sure if it will still be involved,” said Burgess. “Hopefully we put on a good show in Rio and hopefully we do it again in Tokyo and then hopefully it will become an Olympic sport for the foreseeable future.

“For me personally, I am aiming for it, but rugby is a fickle game there is a lot of chance for injury, so I am trying to keep my body right and keep working on what I am doing with England and keep putting in performances, then you never know what will happen when we get there.”

The England Sevens captain compared being selected for the Olympic side to getting a British Lion call up, and admitted he put his ‘heart and soul’ into the tournament.

“For me as a rugby player growing up I always wanted to play for England, it was a great opportunity for me to play sevens, to reach the pinnacle and play for England sevens was fantastic,” he said. “Then the Olympics came on the scene and that was an opportunity for me to play for the equivalent of the British Lions, that was something that I really wanted to put my heart and soul into.”

The former Cornish Pirates captain admitted that being selected to represent Great Britain at the highest level was a ‘dream come true’.

“I had three years building into the Olympics, I put my mind to it with England and worked as hard as I could. Then we got to the training block and fortunately enough after the three months there I was selected, it was a dream come true really,” said Burgess.

“As a boy you want to do the best you can, and for me and the route that I took, the Olympics was the best place for me to play. The experience was amazing and to win a silver medal on top of that was incredible,” he added.

Fiji’s win over Team GB in the 2016 final was the countries first every Olympic medal of any kind. Reflecting, Burgees doesn’t believe Team GB lost the gold as Fiji were ‘outstanding’ and they were the ‘underdogs’.

“I don’t think that we ever lost the gold because Fiji were outstanding, it was a very tough final, for us personally we won the silver. We went in there as massive underdogs, no one really knew us,” he said.

Burgess added: “We did our business and came away with a silver, which was pretty awesome. We weren’t at all gutted that we didn’t get the gold. Coming into the Olympics, Fiji were two-year back-to-back World Series champions, so they were the hot team.

“Throughout the whole tournament we were unknowns, then when we go to the final, we came up against a Fiji team that were mercurial, nobody could touch them. They won the ball back on every kick off, they played offloads that stuck and everything like that, really it was fairy-tale for them and to be part of it was pretty awesome to be fair.”

(This great interview was by young and upcoming sports journalist Joel Pattison. Keep an eye out for more of his fantastic articles)

kids rugby
Latest News & Articles

Sport vs the computer game

2018 Challenge – Sport v Computer Game

Have you ever wondered why as parents we are constantly battling with our children over time on devices or specifically on computer games?

Are you ready to help me as parents and coaches to take on the challenge of toppling the computer game?

There is no doubt that many of us dislike the number of hours played on devices by our children each week and many of us do our best to impose time restrictions and manage the situation to the best of our ability and we must continue to do so.

It is obvious that we need to limit this time, encourage them to be creative with other games away from a screen, go outside and play as well as ensure that they are getting enough physical activity during a regular week.

Two recent surveys show that children under the age of 8 spend over two hours a day in front of a screen whilst those between 8 and 16 can average as much as 6.5 hours a day across multiple digital platforms.

So what is it that makes the computer game so appealing to children rather than the alternative of going out to play?

Rugby v the computer gameOne of the major reasons I am afraid and this is a warning to both parents and coaches is that the computer game meets the needs of the child and they are the focus of the whole experience unlike in many sporting environments where the needs of the adult can often be seen to be met first.

Many of the games designers are often asking for feedback from children meaning the next version of the game goes even further in meeting the demands of the child, making the experience even better than before with the child craving more and more of the perceived good stuff.

They allow the child to participate the whole time, play with friends and be part of the whole experience.  There is certainly no  waiting in a line for a go or spending time on the bench waiting to get on the field.

They allow the child to be in control of a situation, make their own decisions, take educated risks without ramifications and dust themselves down and start again without criticism from a third party.

By the time we have thrown in that children get to live in their own reality, learn by doing without fear, problem solve on their own terms and at their own speed you can see why the computer game is so appealing to them.

Do the sports environments that your children are involved in reflect this?  Are you having to drag your children off the field because the session has been both exhilarating and addictive?  This is definitely possible and many coaches will be creating such an environment …… if they are not then hopefully you will find an alternative session for your child in 2018 or that coaches will start to evolve and make changes to the environment they create.

Parents: What can you do to make sport and physical activity more appealing than the computer game?

  • Focus on the learning of your child as opposed to the winning
  • Support your child, try not to be a ‘second’ coach
  • Make sure they are having ‘FUN’
  • Ensure the activity is set up to meet the needs and demands of your child
  • Allow your child to participate in multiple sports and in multiple environments
  • See mistakes as an opportunity to learn
  • Allow them to fail and experiment, this will help them become more creative and problem solve

Coaches : Do you put as much hard work and thought into your sessions as the video game makers do to make the experience one worth participating in for the children?

Sporting sessions can be just as exhilarating and addictive as the video game and perhaps the real success is if we are having to drag our players off the field because they want to keep practising and playing.

If we can make it all about the children’s experience then success is just around the corner, the technological industry can vouch for that!

We have talked about the ‘Ultimate Success’ of children participating in sport and physical activity for life and coaches and parents creating an environment that is fun and child centred as opposed to meeting the demands of the adult.

If all parties can work together on this in 2018 then it may well be the year that sport wrestled back some control from the computer game.

(Great blog courtesy of Working with Parents in Sport. Check out even more fantastic articles at http://www.parentsinsport.co.uk)

 

 

Matt Toomua - Rugby
Latest News & Articles

BeRugby’s Big Interview – with Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua currently plays for Leicester Tigers in The Premiership. The Australian playmaker has represented his country 33 times but moved to England in 2016 to join the Tigers. He played for the Brumbies between 2008 and 2016 and has also represented Western force.

Matt Toomua rugby

Jonah gets his interview on with Matt

Our competition winner Jonah from Chichester RFC helped us interview the Australia and Leicester Tigers star as part of his prize! See his interview below as our first young reporter. 

BeRugby Magazine – Hi Matt thanks for talking to us today. Where did your rugby playing start?

Matt Toomua – I grew up in Brisbane Australia and started playing rugby at 6 years old. I played for the Brumbies and Western Province but when I was young I supported the Reds.

BRM – What do you eat before a big game?

MT – I eat plenty the night before and sometimes I have two dinners. On the day of the game I just eat to hunger. Not much to be honest just some vegemite on toast or a banana.

BRM – Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?

MT – I don’t have any superstitions like putting my left boot on first or anything. I go through a few processes to get ready but no real routine. I listen to various playlists depending on my mood.

BRM – What is your favourite ground to play on?

MT – Few places can beat a full Newlands Park in Cape Town. Exciting place to play. Obviously, Welford Road. I have to say that, but it is honestly one of the best grounds in the world.

BRM – You are organising the club tour. Where do you go and why?

Matt Toomua - Rugby

Matt ponders over who has the best haircut at Leicester Tigers

MT – I would probably take them on a café hunting tour. Like a pub crawl but with coffee.

BRM – We weren’t expecting that answer!

MT – Yeah, I’m a bit of an expert in the area of coffee, it’s the rugby players new thing. I would pick Melbourne as its full of great cafes and places to hang out and drink coffee.

BRM – If you could use one word to describe the great game of rugby, what would it be?

MT – A test. It’s a test of character and a test of skill. You learn lessons from it.

BRM – What advice would you give to a young rugby player who wants to go professional?

MT – I didn’t go well in rugby until I was a little older and I wasn’t getting picked. I stuck with training and worked hard and it paid off. Sometimes I felt like not playing but I stuck at it and didn’t give up.

BRM – What song do all the Leicester Tigers players know and have to sing on the tour bus?

MT – I think the favourite is Sweet Caroline cos that gets everyone going.

BRM – Who is the most lively/energetic player in the squad?

MT – I would probably say Ellis Genge. He pumps everyone up and screams out all sorts of things before the games.

BRM – Who has the craziest hairstyle?

MT – Probably Dan Cole. He has lack of hair. He has more in his ears than on his head.

BRM – What is the best thing about training?

MT – When its finished! I think it’s the kicking the ball around with your mates. It’s pretty tough most of the time though.

BRM – Who do you think will win the Six Nations and why?

MT – I’m probably going to sit on the fence and say England or Ireland. They both play well under pressure.

 

Fun Fact – Matt is married to Ellyse Perry who plays cricket and football for the Australian national sides. Now that is a talented couple!

 

Matt Toomua rugbyMatt Toomua Factfile

Born – 2nd January 1990 in Melbourne, Australia

Height – 182cm

Weight – 91kgs

Position – Fly half/inside centre.

Test Debut – Australia v New Zealand 2013

Many thanks to Matt Toomua and all those at Leicester Tigers who gave us an awesome day full of fun, food and rugby!

 

These great photos were taken by Moments by Mimi Photography. Check her out on Facebook. Here are some more of the day.

Rugby and Autism
Latest News & Articles, Youth Rugby

Rugby and autism. An incredible story.

Life of an Autism Rugby Mum

This is a little insight into how autism in my family has affected me and how I have the amazing support from my rugby family.

Life is hard. So hard. At times I don’t even know how I survive. People often ask me what it is like being a mother of an autistic child and how I’m dealing with the fact my youngest is also going through the process of being diagnosed. In reply I just say to them that I know of no other life, so how can I possibly say anything different.

When I first got his diagnosis I cried. In fact I sobbed. I could not quite believe what I was hearing. After years of fighting, years of being told it was down to our parenting skills, years of being told I was looking for an excuse for his behaviour, somebody believed me, somebody realised I was not making it up, somebody had recognised Ellis had a disability. I cannot actually describe the feeling I was experiencing as there was so many going through me, but one thing I did feel was vindicated.Rugby and Autism

Throughout the course of Ellis being diagnosed, my friendship circle changed dramatically, to a point where I have lost close friends for various reasons. Before I had children I was what you would call a social butterfly. How life has changed since then! As a parent of a child with autism, you see the world in a different perspective. You become more attune to situations and you see things in many different ways. However one of the most difficult things to deal with as a parent is the way people in society handle him and his difficulties, and to be honest it’s heart breaking. They have no clue. I have wondered to myself why I as a mother have to feel sorry for my son because of people’s ignorance. I then stand back and realise it’s not him I feel sorry for; it’s them. They don’t know this beautiful, intelligent, creative, athletic young man known as Ellis. They haven’t come to know him for the boy he actually is, and for the young man he’s slowly changing into. However, if there is just one wish I could have for him, it would be that Ellis ​​and his autism be understood, and not ridiculed. Autism is an invisible disability, which means that just because you can’t see it, does not mean that it is not there, and I understand that not everybody is going to ‘get it’, but what I don’t understand is the lack of empathy that is shown, especially when it is obvious Ellis is in difficulty, and cannot self-regulate his emotions.

I suppose by writing this I’m asking just one thing. I’m asking you to please imagine what it is like on a daily basis as autism parents dealing with the anxiety, the depression, the wanting to self-harm, the feeling he isn’t good enough, the calling of names like ‘Freak’ and having to deal with the fall out, the refusal to leave the house when it comes to doing daily family activities because his anxiety is so high, the many a sleepless night, the tears and the tantrums, the fights and the arguments, the walking on eggshells, the threat of phone calls being made home because your son has been excluded because he can’t cope. I’m asking you for just a little bit of understanding. I’m asking you if next time you see a parent struggle, don’t walk on by, please ask if they need help. You never know…you could end up being that parent’s saviour. Every day is a battle because there is a lack of awareness of what autism is and the variations of it, which means there is a lack of empathy and understanding, which impacts on the fact that there is a lack of acceptance. This has got to change; the sooner the better.  

Rugby and AutismEvery day is always a difficult for us. If I have not cried more than twice in the day…it is a good day. However through all these difficulties, there are people who have never left us. In fact our circle of friends has grown because of it. These people have one thing in common with us…rugby. These people are our rugby family

The rugby family we have is amazing. His grassroots coaches at Littleborough RUFC, Sam Dickinson and Gaz Sharrocks, just ‘get’ him so therefore support him in every way possible. This has been able to happen because of the positive relationship that Ellis has managed to build and develop over the years with them. As parents this has also helped us develop friendships within the club, because when Ellis feels safe and secure, we feel safe and secure. Safe and secure in knowing we have a ‘family’ who will continually support us, who shares their kindness that goes above and beyond to what we expect, making us feel truly blessed to be involved with such a great club. We know we can go and talk to any member of the club, and feel supported, even on our darkest days.

Rugby and AutismSecondly his community coaches from Sale Sharks, Vicky Irwin, Ellis Greenwood and Simon Leather do amazing work with him. I’ve seen such a change in him because of them. He is involved with them on a fortnightly basis, taking part on the autism project they run called ‘Play On’. They are developing his communication, social and emotional needs, as well as teaching him in how to stay healthy and keep himself safe. Therefore, because of Ellis being given this opportunity to become involved in a great initiative, I have met some amazing people through the Sale Shark Community Team, and I know that whenever I need help, they are only a phone call away. We have made friends for life. We have been given opportunities that we would never thought was possible. We’ve also made solid friends with people in similar circumstances that understand the difficulties we face.

Both adults and children in the rugby family just accept him for who he is, not just a little boy with autism, but they have accepted him as Ellis. Autism is part of him, it what makes Ellis, Ellis, and we are all proud of him as I’m sure his coaches are.

There is a positive side of being an autism mum. The problems and difficulties he faces every day is mind blowing, but the resilience you see in him dealing with them is just breath taking, and he spurs me on to be the best mum I can be with the help and support from our rugby family. With their continued support, I will keep pushing forward, keep moving forward. I’ve learnt that even on the darkest of days, I just need to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going, because I have this support.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, there are days I just want to throw my hands in the air and completely give up, because some days I’m so worn down, so frustrated, so exhausted, so defeated, but what mother would I be if I allowed this to happen?  I’ve been fighting against systems, policies, procedures and people for so long, I can’t possibly stop now… and I won’t.  So I will continue to look at Ellis and his resilience to life, I will put on my happy face and say to myself ‘Everything is going to be O.K’ and with my friends and my rugby families behind me, I know this is true. 

#autisminrugbyworks                                                          #autismisbeautiful

(Thanks to Lisa for sharing this personal yet inspiring story. This really shows how rugby can help those from all walks of life. Our best wishes to Lisa, Ellis and Littleborough RUFC for the many seasons to come)

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Canterbury stash. We just love it!

The guys at Canterbury are so proud of their clothing that they sent us some to try out and review.

We received a pair of adult England shorts, an adult England rugby shirt as well as one of their vapo-dry adult t-shirts. We were also lucky to get a junior England shirt as well as junior England tracksuit bottoms and training tops. At first sight it all seemed to be top stash. Lucky us!

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