A Leamington man has spoken about how rugby has helped him through some of the darkest days of his life.
Simon Rockcliffe, 38, was inspired to set up his own touch rugby session in Coventry after joining Wasps’ Move Like A Pro (MLAP) programme in early 2018, which helps men aged 30 to 55 to lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles.
Not only did Simon shed four inches from his waistline while on the MLAP programme, but he also gained a group of friends who were able to support him through the loss of his daughter – just weeks after he had completed the MLAP course and started up his own touch rugby sessions.
Since then, Simon’s touch rugby session – called Touch Rugby Coventry – has snowballed.
It now has more than 30 adults who take part in touch rugby every Wednesday between 6.30pm and 8pm at Coventrians Rugby Club in Holbrooks, and every Sunday at Coundon Hall Park between 9.30am and 11am - with further plans to expand their appeal in the area for older generations by laying on walking touch rugby.
“Joining Wasps’ Move Like A Pro programme was the best decision I ever made because when I look back, it was what sparked my drive to start up Touch Rugby Coventry,” said Rockcliffe.
“The 12-week programme with Wasps was great both in terms of the physical and social side of things, and by the end of it we were left wanting more, which is why I decided to carry it on by launching my own session.
“When I learned of the loss of my daughter, I had more people ringing me that I had met through Wasps than lifelong friends, which says a lot about how powerful exercise and sport can be socially.
“The Move Like A Pro group was just as much a support group as it was a rugby group, and that is exactly the same ethos we now have at Touch Rugby Coventry.”
Rockcliffe’s involvement in Wasps’ Move Like A Pro programme was thanks to the Wasps Community Foundation – the charity which delivered the course.
Wasps’ are dedicating their upcoming home match against Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens on Saturday 27 April to the Wasps Community Foundation, to help the charity fund more causes such as Move Like A Pro.
Déirdre Fitzhugh, Director at the Wasps Community Foundation, added: “Stories such as Simon’s are why the Foundation exists – to help fund causes that make a positive difference to people’s lives – but we need the generous donations of the public in order to keep these types of activities going.
“The Club’s clash with Saracens presents a great opportunity to raise a significant sum for the charity in the weeks and months ahead, so we would urge as many people as possible to give what they can.”