Healthcare professionals in the Pontypridd to Pontyclun area are recommending a new form of exercise to patients in a Walking Rugby project.
The sessions are supported by the Taff Ely primary care cluster to benefit people mainly aged over 50.
The project is a collaboration with Shednet which works to establish the initiative of Men’s Sheds as clubs where older men can get together to share their interests and to beat isolation.
Walking Rugby organiser Paul Nagle said the sessions run every Thursday from 11am to 12 noon at Pontypridd RFC’s Sardis Road ground.
“We have been going for about 10 weeks and we have attracted up to 12 people to come along to the session,” he said.
“We will warmly welcome more to come along, whether they hear about us via their GP or just turn up on the day.”
The shared aim between the cluster and Men’s Sheds is to create a social activity and opportunity to meet up for men who may in some cases face isolation of loneliness in communities.
The physical exercise in a sporting group also encourages players to want to improve their fitness and diet, watch what they are drinking and smoking, Paul said.
“Many of the people who join Walking Rugby have played when they were young, like me.
“I know I felt I was a good rugby player then and you want to be a good player now.”
The group gets expert coaching from Mark Hutton, a WRU registered coach, who puts them through the drills.
The sessions can help people with health issues and their fitness, with Paul admitting he had lost five pounds in weight over the 10 weeks so far.
The Pontypridd club is the second one of its kind in Wales and the only one linked to a rugby club
The aim is to play a tournament in the future against similar Walking Rugby clubs in England.
Paul said: “We are grateful to the Taff Ely cluster and Pontypridd RFC who have been very supportive to what is a community initiative.”
GP Oliver Williams said: “The Taff Ely cluster is working with the local Men’s Sheds to support the set-up of other men’s and women’s shed groups in 2018/19, in collaboration with the Local Authority, Community Co-ordinators, and Public Health. Walking Rugby is one aspect of this.”
For more information regarding all these resources, please see www.taffelycluster.com