Walking rugby is a slower, non-contact version of the game, and is particularly suited to retired players, those recovering from injury and illness, and over-50s wishing to stay fit and active.
It can be played by all ages and sexes together and can help keep people involved at a club and even bring in new members.
This has been the case at Topsham RFC, who started a walking rugby programme more than two years ago. It began with a small group of older men and women members and they had about 12 regular players at the end of their first season. They now have a pool of more than 30 regular players, playing on a Monday at 6pm, Tuesday at 11am and Thursday at 5pm (with drinks in the members bar afterwards).
Topsham’s John Carroll said: “It’s competitive and good fun and open to all levels of fitness and skill. We have players recovering from heart surgery, suffering with Parkinson’s, trauma and all manner of minor ailments, most find the walking rugby really helps.
“Previous rugby experience can be helpful, but is by no means necessary and anyone is welcome to come along and give the game a try. We would love to have more people join us for a friendly, but still competitive game and get some good fresh air and fun in our lovely surroundings. As our senior men and ladies also train after us on a Thursday, there is a good opportunity to meet and chat to the other players.”
He added: “We are happy to welcome members of other Devon clubs to come and try it and hope they will launch walking rugby teams of their own. It would be good to have other teams to play with and perhaps establish a local friendly league.”
A number of clubs in Devon now offer it and more are considering doing it.
If any clubs or individuals want more information on walking rugby they should contact John Carroll on (01392) 876048 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call in to one of the regular sessions at Topsham RFC, Bonfire Field, Exeter Road, Topsham, EX3 0LY.
HERE ARE THE MAIN WALKING RUGBY RULES
• The game is split into four 5 minute (or longer by agreement) quarters, 2 minute breaks for rehydration between each
• Up to 7 players a side, with rolling substitutes
• Players must not run or jog while the game is in action
• The ball must be passed backwards or transverse (not forward)
• A try is scored by carrying the ball with both feet over the try line
• Knock-on if the ball is knocked forward and hits another player or the ground, deliberate knock on is a penalty
• Turnover if the ball hits the ground going backwards
• Tackle is a two-handed touch to the ball carrier (shoulders down to shorts, including arms)
• Tackled player must pass the ball, within one pace from the spot they were tackled, without delay
• Defence must not interfere with the first pass following a tackle
• Ball in touch the other side re-start with a pass from the point where the ball crossed the touch line
• Turnover, penalty or other in-field re-start: the player re-starting must tap the ball with foot or knee and may then walk or pass, on-side defenders may advance
• Uncontested two-person scrums for knock on/forward pass with 6 or more players a side
DEVON CLUBS CURRENTLY OFFERING WALKING RUGBY
Venue: Bonfire Field, Topsham, EX3 0LY
Days: Playing on Tuesdays (6pm) and Thursdays (5pm) outdoors on grass and under floodlights for the winter. With training for newcomers half an hour before.
Contact: John Carroll on 01392 876048, email email@example.com
Venue: Norton Playing Fields, Wessex Way, TQ6 0JL (behind the leisure centre, park in overflow car park).
Days: Thursday nights (6pm, likely to move to 5.30pm in winter).
Contact: David Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org
PLYMOUTH ALBION RFC
Venue: Brickfields, 25 Damerel Close, Plymouth, PL1 4NE
Days: Friday nights (6pm until end of October)
Contact: Mike Lewis at email@example.com
IF YOUR CLUB WANTS TO START A WALKING RUGBY GROUP OR HAVE STARTED ONE AND WANT TO BE INCLUDED ON THIS LIST THEN CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org