- Local MP watches O2 Touch in action in New Malden
- ‘Pitch up and play’ attracts more numbers every week
Photo: RFU Archive
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, visited Old Emanuel RFC in New Malden on Thursday June 13 and praised the O2 Touch activity at the club.
Old Emanuel was one of the first clubs in the country to run weekly sessions of Touch Rugby under the RFU’s O2 Touch banner.
Every Thursday they have upwards of 30 players taking part in ‘pitch up and play’ sessions that emphasise the fun and social nature of Touch, the non-contact version of rugby played by people of all ages and every level of ability and experience.
Stephen Hammond spent a full evening at the club’s Blagdons ground and was introduced to the club’s captain, first-team captain and secretary, and the thriving junior section, before watching Touch Rugby in action as four Old Emanuel teams played a round-robin with two teams of their friends from Teddington RFC.
“I was thrilled to witness Old Emanuel’s Touch rugby evening on Thursday,” said Stephen. “It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the sport at such a thriving club.
“I was particularly pleased to see men and women of all ages and abilities enjoying the sport together and having fun. Touch is clearly a great way to get fit and have fun.
“I commend the club, the RFU and O2 for offering these opportunities to the local community.”
Michael D’Urso, Old Emanuel’s O2 Touch operator, said: “It was wonderful to host Stephen Hammond at the club, and we are appreciative of the amount of time he spent with us, asking questions about the history of the club and how it’s grown, and the rules of Touch while he watched it being played by 50 players from Old Emanuel and Teddington.
“He also met 30 of our mini-rugby players doing their summer training. Some of them had emailed earlier in the week asking if they could meet their MP, they were so excited about the visit.
“Our O2 Touch sessions for adults are growing in popularity every week, and we are gradually attracting more female players.
“We have also seen three of the Touch players transfer over to the contact version of rugby as well. It is all a boost to the numbers of people enjoying the game.
“Our club aims to offer something for everyone in the local community.”
Also on hand to explain how Touch is one of the key focus areas for the RFU to create a lasting legacy for the sport in the build-up to and beyond England hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015 were Malcolm Caird, RFU Council member for Surrey, and Adam Cottingham, the RFU’s Surrey Met rugby development officer (RDO).
Working with O2, the RFU is committed to establishing 75 new O2 Touch Centres by June 2013 and a further 100 during the 2013/14 season.