With Grand Slam fever sweeping Swansea ahead of the big Wales v France game at the weekend, hundreds of children are following in the footsteps of their rugby heroes by learning the tricks of the trade thanks to the Ospreys Community Rugby team.
A selection of Active Swansea rugby skills courses run by Swansea Council in partnership with the Ospreys are thriving at several of the city’s community leisure centres.
Courses for five to seven-year-olds are ongoing at leisure centres in Bishopston, Cefn Hengoed, Morriston, Penlan and Penyrheol. Children taking part have been inspired by the Ospreys players in the Welsh squad like Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.
The six-week courses at Swansea’s leisure centres are aimed at enhancing the natural development of children taking part by improving their skills and technique. Children are signposted to their local rugby clubs once they’ve completed the courses.
Ex-Wales international scrum-half Andy William, now Player Development Officer for the Swansea District is responsible for the courses. He said:
“These courses are very popular and interest in rugby is inevitably soaring at the moment because of the success of the national team.
“The key is that these children taking part are signposted to local rugby clubs once they’ve completed their courses. This is important because it helps the clubs develop their age-grade teams.
“It also means young children will have already had a solid introduction to rugby before going along to their local clubs.”
Cllr Graham Thomas, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said:
“It’s enormously encouraging to hear that so many children are taking up rugby and other sports because it will help encourage a lifelong love for sport and exercise.”
Many hundreds of children have graduated from the Council’s programme in partnership with the Ospreys since its inception. Every child who takes part will receive a certificate to recognise their achievement and the chance to win individual trophies.
Roger Blyth, Ospreys Managing Director, added:
"At the Ospreys we believe 100 per cent in development and have invested heavily in creating a pathway that allows local youngsters to move all the way from playing social rugby with their friends through to not only representing their home region, but also Wales, as we've seen with the like of young Justin Tipuric who made his first international start last Saturday.
"These courses for 5-7 year olds are the perfect introduction to rugby and we are delighted to work closely with our partners at the City and County of Swansea to provide local children with what is a great rugby taster, encouraging them to be active and hopefully igniting a lifelong passion for rugby."