Fifty kids laced up their boots, grabbed their mouth guards and made their way down to the TET MultiSports Centre in Stratford for a free rugby skills and fun session.

The session, on July 8, was one of six in Taranaki Rugby Football Union (TRFU) community team's school holiday kids' rugby programme.

The sessions, aimed at those aged 5 to 18, are being held in Stratford, Hāwera and New Plymouth throughout the school holidays, with two sessions per district.

One of the organisers, Melanie McGlashan, says the team wanted to make the programme easily accessible to kids across the Taranaki region.

Advertisement

"This is the first programme we've run of this size. We've run holiday programmes in the past but it's only been one session."

The children were split into their age groups and participated in a three-hour session.

"They played rippa rugby and other games to teach them some skills. We're trying to increase their interest in rugby and get them active."

She says she is pleased with the turnout of the sessions.

"One hundred kids signed up for our first session in New Plymouth and 50 kids for this one. It is great they are interested."

Toby Rabone, 8, says he enjoyed the session.
Toby Rabone, 8, says he enjoyed the session.

The community team includes eight Rugby Development Officers (RDOs) from Taranaki's premier rugby clubs. Their role is to go to schools and encourage children to become interested in rugby.

Melanie says the RDOs worked with the kids, teaching them rugby skills.

"There was a little skill work but it is mainly getting the kids active and having fun."

Advertisement

She says the team are thankful for the support of sponsors.

'Without their help, this wouldn't be possible. We're thankful to the Taranaki Community Trust for funding the RDO roles and also to Yarrows the Bakers for supplying the children with lunch."

Melanie says with the delay of the rugby season due to Covid-19, it's important for the kids to get back into rugby.

"They need to get back out there, be active and have fun."

Melanie says she enjoys organising events like this.

"This is what we all love doing, we love getting out there in the community."

Advertisement

The junior rugby kicks off on July 25, a school term later than usual.

"We're happy the kids will be able to get out there soon and play some rugby," Melanie says.

Toby Radbone, 8, attended the skill session in Stratford.

"It was very cool. I enjoyed getting out there and learning some skills."

Toby says he is "rugby mad".

"I can't wait for the rugby season and I look forward to playing again."

Advertisement