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George Kruis lends his weight to 'Pitch Up For Rugby' campaign

By Paul Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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“Get back to your local rugby club, enjoy some exercise and socialising with friends and family.”

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That is the message from England international George Kruis ahead of the second weekend of community rugby action in England, Wales and Scotland following the Covid-19 enforced 18-month break.

Last Saturday saw full contact action resume at most levels from English rugby’s third tier National One competition downwards including the women’s game plus junior age-groups.

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And the sport’s governing bodies in England, Wales and Scotland have now joined forces to encourage players of all ages back to their local clubs.

In England, the RFU’s ‘Pitch Up For Rugby’ campaign aims to highlight the unique camaraderie and sense of community that rugby offers as well as demonstrating the physical and mental benefits of being part of a rugby club.

To this end, hundreds of clubs will host ‘Pitch Up’ events on September 11 and 12 as part of a national celebration of all formats of rugby returning. More details are available at englandrugby.com.

Men’s and women’s 15-a-side teams will be out in force at these events. There will also be Warrior Camps for women and girls and non-contact and modified contact rugby for new players and those coming back after a break.

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Barbecues, beer tents and music will also help to provide some of the fun that players and families have been missing.

England and British Lions lock Kruis began his rugby career with Dorking RFC and says those formative years created bonds which still remain.

“I have heaps of happy memories from those days which we still laugh about when we get back together,” he says.

“I was there a few weeks ago as they have just opened a superb gym and rehab facility which is a massive community success story.

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“I am very lucky to know (cricketer) Jason Roy from Dorking and (Sale prop) Jake Cooper-Woolley as well as another ex-pro Tom Bristow who has just completed the circle by going back there as a player-coach.”

The importance of getting community rugby restarted is underlined by a recent study commissioned by the England, Wales, and Scotland Rugby Unions with The National Lottery.

This found that 86 per cent of those involved in the grassroots game believe that playing and being involved in their local team or club has a positive impact on their mental health.

Mental health within professional sport is in recent times a much more openly discussed subject and the study suggests this has in turn helped those within sport’s grassroots.

More than a quarter of club players and volunteers (27 per cent) said that seeing rugby stars talk about how they feel has inspired them to open up themselves.

And it’s with their rugby community they feel most comfortable, with 53 per cent talking to teammates and club members rather than other friends or family about issues including relationship worries, job concerns, physical health and money worries.

Scottish Rugby have already launched their return to rugby campaign ‘Everyone’s Game’ which aims to increase participation while rugby in Wales will be similarly boosted by the WRU’s ‘Pathway to Participation’ programme which starts later in the autumn.

The National Lottery and its players, through the funding they generate every time they play, are supporting the return to community rugby across England, Scotland and Wales helping clubs rebuild after the pandemic.

Pitch Up for Rugby, England Rugby’s initiative to encourage a return to community rugby is supported by The National Lottery, which has provided funding to boost grassroots rugby union across England. Visit englandrugby.com to find out more.

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George Kruis lends his weight to 'Pitch Up For Rugby' campaign

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