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The much anticipated return of Try Tag Rugby

Try Tag Rugby is back on again this week and for many players it is something they have missed greatly during the difficult last few months. The sport brings not only the benefits of physical exercise, but mental health benefits as well as much missed social interaction and team fun!

Helen, now a regular to Try Tag Rugby, first engaged with social Rugby League more than three years ago via a free Bears’s 5s session, she explains her journey and how she first got involved: “I saw a flyer from Sky Blues in the Community for ten weeks of taster sessions of various sports women could try out, including rugby, softball and badminton. I didn’t stick with the softball for long but kept turning up for rugby and badminton. Before the first rugby session I was quite nervous. I’d played a lot of sport in my 20s (women’s football, mixed 5 a side, mixed volleyball) but then had illness and children followed, and now in my late 30s, I hadn’t played sport for a long time, so I had a few nerves about keeping up.

“At the first session there were quite a few women there, and it was great fun with a bit of fitness, and playing rugby, netball and other catching and passing games. James Geurtjens (former Bears player and coach) who was leading the session made it fun. It was a good laugh and encouraging, and I thought I would give it another go the next week. So I kept turning up, kept having fun, barely missed a session, even went on my birthday. I remember one night we did catching from high balls and I surprised myself and just wanted to keep playing and getting that buzz.”

“When the ten weeks ended I knew I wanted to find a way to keep playing but we hadn’t had enough attendees to really do proper games in the sessions. James had mentioned something about Bears 5s which was a form of playing touch rugby at the Alan Higgs Centre on Monday nights, but I kind of talked myself out of it, thinking it would be too competitive. I tried contacting a few women’s teams about Touch as I knew contact wasn’t for me. But kept coming up against dead ends so decided to try the Bears 5s. It was pretty fast, and not having any previous rugby experience, I really was a bit out of my depth for a while but it spurred me on to try to get better. After a while I was getting fitter and improving.”

Helen looked for other opportunities to get involved in social rugby in the local area and gave these a go initially, she continues: “Then I heard about Try Tag Rugby starting and I felt the time was right to have something a bit more competitive to be involved in.

“My fitness improved massively and as a single parent the mental health benefits have probably been as much, if not more so, as the physical side. I hope to be a positive role model for my daughter and son too – that you can try new things and look after yourself.

“I’ve made so many friends through Tag Rugby, and to be honest, it’s the people that make it. I’ve had a lot of laughs and great nights out. I can’t thank rugby enough for getting me through some quite hard times and bringing a lot of great people into my life, many of whom I now consider to be close friends. I’ve also met my partner through Try Tag Rugby so I’m incredibly grateful for those early sessions, as it’s had a big impact on me personally.

“I get a buzz when I feel I’m improving and performing well, whether in a Tag game or Touch. It’s not just about winning, but about making Tags, scoring, passing well, defending well, communicating well, taking the ball on, asserting yourself, pushing yourself.”

“I feel confident in my body being strong and capable, and being fitter generally (less so since lockdown though! Haha). I can’t overstate how much it has helped with my mental health and got me through some difficult stuff, in no small part because of the people I’ve met through it.  But also because it helps develop resilience and determination. (As well as a lot of laughing at stupid stuff, both on and off the pitch!)”

“I’ve missed playing rugby in lockdown massively. I took up running and started jogging 5ks and it was so dull! I just don’t get anywhere near the same kick as I do from playing rugby and being part of a team. I’m grateful that everyone I know has stayed safe and well but it was definitely starting to affect my well-being not being able to chuck a ball about.”

Helen wants to encourage others to give Try Tag Rugby a go – even if they have not tried the sport before. She reflects:

“If I hadn’t given Bears 5s a go, back three years ago, everything would be different. I would probably have been playing womens 5-a-side and badminton, but I wouldn’t have been getting the buzz that I get from rugby and there wouldn’t have been all the stuff that goes with it: team, friends, pub, nights out, matches, meeting my partner Paul, team banter and everything else.

“If I was recommending it to someone for the first time, I’d just say, just do it, come along and try it. It may take time to get used to all the aspects of play, but if you can throw and catch, everything else comes with time. There are always opportunities to improve but equally if you just want to get fitter while playing something fun, with a social element too, this could be just the thing for you.”

If you want to get involved, two Try Tag Rugby Leagues are running currently and there are spaces for a few individuals who want to join existing teams. Mondays is at the Memorial Park, Coventry and Thursdays is at Newbold Comyn, Leamington Spa. Please email coventry@trytagrugby.com if you would like to get involved or for more information.

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