- Teams from business community and local clubs turn out for O2 Touch festival
- Success prompts greater interest in non-contact game
Photo: RFU Archive
An innovative O2 Touch festival in Cheshire has proved that mixing business and pleasure can be a winning formula.
The Festival at Chester RUFC was staged earlier this month and attracted a total of 14 teams – both from the Cheshire business community and from local O2 Touch centres.
Bentley, M&S Money, MBNA and Barclays Bank were among the organisations to be represented; and they found themselves up against club sides from Chester, Sandbach, Crewe & Nantwich, and Lymm.
“It was a great night,” said Simon Verbickas, an RFU Community Rugby Coach who played a key role in organising the event. “Nobody had a bad word to say about it and the atmosphere was really good.
“There must have been about 200-300 people there – either playing, or supporting family or friends who were. It was a good mix as well: each team had to have a minimum of two ladies in their squad.
“For some of these big corporate businesses, they have staff who travel from further afield in Cheshire. They may be interested in touch rugby but might not realise that they could play at their local club. This festival has brought businesses and clubs together, and already we have heard about people who want to get more involved and that is music to our ears.”
The festival was competitive, with the 14 teams playing in two pools of seven. The sides from the O2 Touch Centres at Lymm and Sandbach came out on top and went on to play a final, which was won by Lymm.
But the big winner on the night was rugby itself, with the event drawing praise from across the community.
Anne Boyd, Chief Executive of Sport Cheshire, said: “It was great to see so many businesses signing up to the O2 Touch Rugby event, demonstrating their commitment to getting their workforce active.
“Recent research shows that inactivity among today's young people will cost the UK economy more than £53 billion over their lifetime. It's more important than ever for businesses to consider how they can reduce sedentary habits within their workforce. An active workforce is more productive and builds a culture of teamwork and strong communication.
“It's a privilege to work with the RFU, local employers and clubs to create an active workforce culture in Cheshire.”