Players warming up at Age UK Richmond's walking rugby class at Richmond Rugby club

Age UK Richmond offers walking rugby classes to over 55’s

Richmond Rugby Club has teamed up with Age UK Richmond to offer walking rugby classes for those over 55.

The taster course is eight weeks long, takes place every Thursday at 10 am, and costs £35.

Promising to be much more than playing rugby, coaches focus on mobility, hand-eye coordination, and socialising.

After the first session took place last week Vaughan Bentley, head of community at Richmond Rugby Club said: “They came back and had absolute smiles on their faces. 

“They were so happy.”

The course is open to a whole host of abilities and fitness levels. 

When describing the range of players they have at walking rugb,y Vaughan said: “We’ve had someone who couldn’t even catch a ball and now she’s one of our best try scorers. 

“She’s got absolute wheels on her.”

The charity has found that in the past they’ve been perceived as only having activities like knitting groups.

Their classes now however extend to walking rugby, walking football, ukulele lessons, and even classes on how to play video games.

Carol Horne, 47, wellbeing and services manager for Age UK Richmond said: “We do activities all over the borough. 

“A lot of it is funded by the council because it’s preventative activities. 

“They want retired people to be exercising, to be eating healthily and making friends because loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking.”

Walking rugby regulars, Paul Tanner, 68, and Lesley Tanner, 64, have seen the benefits walking rugby has had not just on their health but also on their wellbeing.

They started two years ago not knowing anyone at the club and now have around a dozen friends they see regularly, not just in the clubhouse for the usual tea break after class.

Paul said: “It’s not just getting fit, it’s the social side of it.

“I’ve got the bug. 

“If we can’t do it on Thursday I feel disappointed, I look forward to it, it’s one of the highlights of my week.”

Paul previously coached rugby at London Irish whilst his wife Lesley scored the first ever try for London Irish ladies, years before they became a professional team.

Despite their rugby background, they insist it is for all abilities and many of the new players have no previous experience.

Paul stressed he wished that the take-up in Richmond was bigger.

He said: “You haven’t got to be mega fit or punching weights to do it.”

If you’d like to join the group on Thursdays at 10 am, you can call Carol on 0208 744 1965 or book here.

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