Community Group’s Head of Community at Stourbridge Rugby, Chad Thorne provides an update in his latest blog

The Community Department at Stourbridge Rugby is going from strength-to-strength. In September, we took our department to the next level in hiring two new members of staff. Clarkson McLeod and Jacob Piggott-Denison were appointed Rugby Development Manager and Community Rugby Coach respectively. Their impact has been incredible and this is only the beginning.

After the success of our August rugby camps and our HAF summer provisions, our community department was ready to push on, setting us up nicely for a very busy schools programme from September.

Rugby and HAF camps

We held very successful rugby camps in July, August and October, and it was great to see the continued development of all of the children in attendance. We also ran our first HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) provisions in partnership with Dudley Council, providing a safe and fun environment for children who receive free school meals. The days included multisport activities in the morning, lunch produced by the Club’s Hospitality Manager, Donna, followed by arts and crafts in the afternoon. Our HAF programme lasted for four weeks, reaching more than 200 children, and it was great to see the happiness this brought to local families.

Moving towards Christmas, we will again be delivering a HAF Camp over the school holidays, with registration via the council website now closed.

Schools
We are proud to be able to work with schools in our community in a variety of different ways. In total, we are engaging with more than 400 children per week, delivering 80 hours of rugby and mentoring in that time across 14 different schools.

Our offerings include before and after-school clubs, our successful Rugby Reading Champions sessions, as well as rugby and mentoring sessions at primary and secondary schools. Using the RFU’s core values of teamwork, discipline, respect, sportsmanship, and enjoyment, we aim to show the benefits rugby can bring both on and off the field, while providing positive role models.

We are always looking to engage with more schools and for more information, please email our team on community@stourbridgerugby.com.

Walking Rugby
Our Walking Rugby sessions are up and running, with older players enjoying the chance to prove they have still got it. The sessions are for people of all abilities and we accommodate this by splitting into two groups. The first group is for people who have higher, more complex mental health needs such as dementia, where our coaches can provide more intensive engagement and tailor any activities as appropriate. Our second group is for over 50s, who are more inactive, isolated, have health issues and/or are recovering from injuries, and we are able to provide more general welfare support.

We play various fun walking rugby games to develop catching and passing skills before slowly building up to matches. A big thank you to the Co-op and National Lottery Community Fund for supporting this initiative.

Stourbridge Academy

We are continuing to work alongside Sandwell College in delivering a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport, as well as providing a Rugby Academy. This involves 10-12 hours of rugby coaching, including a full strength and conditioning programme. It is designed to offer aspiring young players a chance to make a career in rugby and sport, with all sessions run from our top-class facilities at Stourton Park.

The programme is open to both male and female applicants. Having played a series of games this season, we are really coming together as a squad and a few of our players have been rewarded with selection into the county squads.

Projects
We are pleased to say that all of our grant-funded projects are continuing to operate. Alongside Walking Rugby, we have also just completed our heritage project. A short video has been created which celebrates the history of the club and this will shortly be posted on our website.

The Heart of England Community Foundation has also supported our Rugby Reading Champions project in primary schools. We work with the National Literacy Trust (NLT) in delivering this literacy intervention programme, which consists of:

• Supporting pupils to improve their skill, attitude, and behaviour towards reading
• 60-minute lessons supporting pupils’ comprehension skills, followed by 60 minutes of games
• Coaches are trained by the NLT to deliver activities and act as mentors to the children.

We are always looking at new ways to engage with people in our surrounding community and if you would like to know more, please contact us by clicking HERE. We will also soon be hopefully launching a new and exciting wheelchair rugby project and if you would like more information, please do get in touch.

Finally
It is a pleasure to lead the Community Department at Stourbridge Rugby and it is great to witness how we have grown over the past two years. As previously mentioned, Clarkson and Jacob are making a great impact on and off the pitch, while it is great to have community coaches from a variety of sections across the club. This creates a strong link across the whole club and wider community.

Looking ahead, we have many activities planned over the next few months and we will be providing rugby coaching into many more primary and secondary schools, as well as rugby camps and masterclasses in the new year.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to support, or sponsor the great work going on at Stourbridge please do get in touch – we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact me by emailing chad.thorne@community-group.co.uk.

If you would like to know more about how Community Group can support your club, please get in touch by clicking HERE.