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Bath Rugby Foundation Enjoy a Successful Summer Scrum Mixed-Ability Event
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon Odd Down Sports Ground played host to Summer Scrum, the largest mixed-ability rugby event in the South West. An event organized by Bath Rugby Foundation.
Summer Scrum aims to work together with local schools to provide a fun-first rugby experience to children with special educational needs or disabilities. Bath Ruby Foundation together with players, coaches and staff from Bath Rugby provided lots of fun in the sun centered around empowering children to have a go and experience something new.
With Bath Rugby Foundation staff and volunteers helping to deliver the day, plus staff from every department of Bath Rugby – from playing and coaching staff to everything from the kitchen and communications – it was definitely a day to remember.
We spoke to Bath Rugby Foundation Senior Coach and mastermind behind Summer Scrum, Becks Toan, all about this fantastic event:
“The Summer Scrum has been going for several years and it’s our big inclusion and disability festival. Today we have 140+ students who have special needs and disabilities coming along and it’s about them having a day of sport, learning rugby, and meeting some of their Bath Rugby superheroes. It’s very special, very inspirational and every child here has the biggest smile on their face.
“We’ve got four schools here; Three Ways School from Bath, Larkrise School from Trowbridge, The Mendip School from Shelton and Fosse Way School from Radstock. We’ve been really lucky with the weather as it’s not been as hot as it has been, but at one time we had fourteen different school groups here enjoying the rugby activities.”
How has the day gone so far?
“It’s all about inclusion, so in the morning all the children go round the stations and also have the chance of cycling round the track on specially adapted bikes, which is very cool. Seeing a kid’s face who is on a wheelchair-adapted bike for the first time is truly priceless, you’ll never forget it.
“It’s really nice to see them learning rugby skills that they’ve never learnt before. As a coach, one of the biggest barriers is the fact that they think they can’t do it because they have a disability or a special need, and with them actually being able to kick a ball properly – or even just a little bit – creates a memory which has a huge, lasting effect on them."
What have the kid’s and staff’s reaction while they’ve been here?
“Beaming smiles, big high fives and it’s all very special. It’s hard to put it in to words! What’s really special is that we’ve got Bath Rugby involved, with over 50 staff here today and one of their staff members came up to me and said “I had a child that couldn’t kick a ball after ten times of trying, but after they did it on the eleventh try, their face just lit up! I’m not going to forget that moment!” It’s great to have some of the coaches and first team players here because they get a closer look at what the Foundation do.
“I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone from Bath Rugby who came down today like Tarquin [McDonald], Todd [Blackadder] and Hoops [Stuart Hooper], because it’s really special that they’re involved today. Plus our HITZ students, they’ve massively been involved today. To see them in leadership roles on the activity stations and working with the kids is really rewarding.”
Next we spoke to Bath Rugby legend, former captain and current Performance and Player Development Director, Stuart Hooper.
“The Summer Scrum event has been so great, it’s really good to get out here amongst all the groups of kids that have come along and are having such a fantastic day organized by the Bath Rugby Foundation. Great to see so many kids getting involved in rugby and so many smiling faces and cheering and clapping.”
“We’ve been doing some bits of passing with them, practicing our kicking, taking part in some games of touch, and a bit of stick in the mud, but It’s not been so much skills-focused it’s all just about coming in and having fun.”
Is it nice to be able to step away from pre-season to events like these?
“Yeah it’s amazing. It takes your mind off the things you’ve got going on in your life in rugby and just adds a bit of context to everything and hopefully have a positive impact on these guys’ lives in a very, very minor way.”
“I think the boys have been really good, too. They ‘ve got the day off from training and have the opportunity to get in amongst the kids, I’m sure they’re loving it.”
What’s it like as Bath Rugby working together with Bath Rugby Foundation?
“It’s great to have such strong links with the Foundation and to be able to come along to days like today gives you a real appreciation of what each other do. The Foundation staff to such an incredible job so for us to be able to come out and see that first hand is a real privilege."
The Bath Rugby Foundation run events all year round, including community camps and other inclusive events spreading the positive and inclusive power of rugby. It’s definitely worth checking out!