Last year a host of Rugby stars and Celebrities lined up to play in a Rugby Aid match which saw the Rest of the World team narrowly defeat a select England side. The match raised funds for the Charity Rugby for Heroes which has used some of the funds to launch the course Transition Through Rugby.
The Transition through Rugby Course is an intensive 1 week course which mentors participants through the RFU courses Rugby Ready, Scrum Factory and Level 2 Coaching the 15-a-side game, as well as the Level 1 Referee qualification. But the course is about so much more than gaining rugby qualifications.
In 2011 the wider rugby community and professional player network recognised the similarities between a professional transitioning from a Career in Rugby and Service Leavers transitioning into the Civilian sector. The Rugby community has long been a staunch supporter of the Armed Forces and through a deeper understanding of the difficulties associated with individuals transitioning into the Civilian Sector, they decided that they could do more by providing opportunities for Service Leavers through the Rugby network. When this aspiration was combined with the funding from Rugby for Heroes, Transition through Rugby was born.
Sgt Jeff Williams based at RAF Northolt was a recent graduate of the course. “I have been watching rugby all my life and so this course was always going to appeal, but it surpassed all my expectations, the content and delivery was excellent. To be learning about networking through Rugby, coaching and refereeing in a tri-service Rugby environment meant the banter was always there. Learning from Rugby professionals, International athletes, course mentors and peers about Rugby and the transition into Civi Street was exciting, challenging and educational”. Asked what he would do next, Sgt Williams highlighted “firstly I need to go and revise refereeing hand signals because even though I have been watching the game for 40 years and thought I knew them all, I don’t!”. Secondly Jeff was going to look to join his local rugby club as a player/coach to start using his new qualifications and begin building a network outside of the RAF.
Former SAC Pete McCarthy who served for 11 years with the RAF, ending his Career at RAF Odiham was also a graduate of Transition through Rugby. Pete now runs his own first aid business which amongst other services provides first aiders to Rugby clubs across the country. Since graduating Pete has been coaching the U14’s at Harrow on the Hill rugby club. In addition Pete has decided to give playing another go and was about to pull on his boots again for the first time in 5 years. On top of the coaching, the course showed me another community outside of the RAF that I instantly felt at home with. Whilst business is going really well the Rugby Community have opened up even more opportunities to me and I am trying to give as much back to that Community as they are giving me”.
Former South African International Thinus Delport who played professional Rugby for 14 years and served with the South African Armed forces as part of National Service is a Coach and Mentor on the Transition through Rugby course. Thinus highlights that the course is not about guys walking away with a job in Rugby, it is about providing them with the confidence and skills to walk into any Rugby club feel valued and meet a like-minded Community of people. Some of our graduates are volunteering at clubs like Harlequins and Bath whilst others have opted to use their qualifications coaching at mini rugby level at their local club.
RFU Community Rugby Coach Dave Barley wanted to get involved with the course because he felt the Rugby Community gained a lot by embracing and learning from the skills and experiences that members of the RAF and Services are recognised for. “Rugby as a sport is short of coaches and referees, bringing in dedicated, committed professionals from the Services, into Rugby clubs, only help the game develop. In turn the Rugby Community can give Veterans a sense of belonging and a network to assist them on their journey as they leave the RAF.
Alan Lamb a founder of the course states “there are some obvious parallels that can be drawn between the UK’s Armed Forces and the sport of rugby – the traditions and core values of: leadership, teamwork, commitment, discipline, courage, respect, loyalty and camaraderie are all values in which the sport of rugby and the military unite behind and aspire to, and it is these values that the Charity Rugby for Heroes champions through the delivery of the Transition through Rugby”.
The next course is scheduled to run during the period 5-10 Jun 16, there are 4 courses run per year which are open to any serving or former member of the armed forces, irrelevant of rank and service background. Further details are available at http://rugbyforheroes.org.uk/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org