02 Touch a huge success at Cheltenham – a great introduction to rugby

After a successful 12 week pilot in summer 2015, O2 touch rugby arrived in Cheltenham on the 4th April 2016 after securing 3 years of funding from the RFU. Just 8 sessions later, we have seen 57 different players (34 male and 23 female) and had a peak of 31 players at a single session, with a core of players that attend on a regular basis – allowing for games across 2 pitches most weeks. We are expecting more numbers now that the summer is starting to kick in and anticipate having our first social BBQ soon.

We have good support from club players from the ladies section from the start and now more recently the men’s team. We have also been pleased to have had the opportunity to welcome a large number of players, who have never previously been involved with the club in any capacity or contact rugby. We have been able to develop relationships with other local clubs who also run o2 touch, such as Minchinhampton and Old Cryptians and will continue to build on this to develop o2 touch across Gloucestershire.

The o2 touch programme has massive potential for the future, with many other clubs who host o2 touch around the country seeing around 50 players turning up on a weekly basis.

While recreational rugby is at the heart of the o2 touch sessions, there are also many development opportunities for the club as a whole, including recruitment of players and volunteers, hosting tournaments, developing touch referees and coaches, developing competitive touch teams and of course developing talented players to access the England touch rugby player pathways.

Soon we will also have a juniors session running alongside the adults, to cater for 12 -16 years olds for a ten week block, supported by some of the Cheltenham Tigers Minis and Juniors coaches. We hope that this will draw more players to the club who are thinking about trying out rugby, as well as their parents who may be tempted to participate in the adult sessions at the same time.