didi rugby is ‘the way forward’ for Old Coventrians RFC

Children running, playing rugby

didi rugby is certainly ‘the way forward’ for Old Coventrians RFC mini and junior chair, Jane Waterhouse.

That’s no surprise give the 12 months that the club’s youngest age group have had since beginning didi rugby as a pilot scheme at their Tile Hill Lane home in 2021.

Old Coventrians welcomed the team from didi rugby Coventry and Warwickshire, led by Andy Fox, into their club to try and build from the bottom upwards and create a group of youngsters who could add numbers to their under-7s team.

Children running, playing rugby

Progression of didi rugby classes

As Jane explains, what started as a bit of a punt, has now created just the sort of influx of children – and parents – they were hoping for.

“I have been our mini and junior chair for a number of years now and we have around 200 children in our club from under-7s upwards,” said Jane.

“We started didi as a bit of a pilot scheme about a year ago and specifically targeted reception and Year 1 children so we could focus on having more members in our under-7s.

team spirit

“We knew we had some young children whose parents told us wanted to play rugby, so we welcomed didi rugby in and identified some pitch space for the classes too.

“A year down the line and didi has given us a ready-made under-7s team that is ready for mainstream rugby. They can already play rugby to some extent, catch and pass a ball and they also know about team work and team spirit too.

“Not only that but our didis have their own designated pitch space and love their sessions on Sundays. They have integrated well and are a real part of the club.

“The kids really enjoy it and we have had around a dozen or so kids move up into the under-7s which has really made a difference.

“We have also added new parents and they have become part of that special rugby family feel to the club which has been great to see for us.

“Andy Fox has been great and so have the coaches.

“didi rugby is definitely the way forward.”

didi rugby parents

Parents of didi children have also loved the inclusion of classes at the club.

Leonie said: “My child started with didi in their 4-6 section at Old Coventrians RFC in early spring 2022. The didi experience was excellent and the coach was so welcoming for children and parents.

“The sessions were always fun, different and really helped the children learn the basics needed for tag rugby. The didi programme also instilled a sense of team and belonging for my child which has carried on into joining the under-7s team at OC.

“Having didi at the foundation level of rugby has meant that quite a few of the under-7s have been confident enough to play in matches against other clubs very quickly.

“My child now has all the benefits of being a didi & OC’s player, like a strong team ethic, desire to learn new skills and most importantly, to have fun while playing rugby.”

Listen to instructions

Roni added: “didi rugby was a brilliant way to introduce my child to rugby. Then the transition from didi to under-7s was smooth because the children and parents already knew each other and the club set up.

And Kate said: “I think didi rugby was a very gentle way to settle kids into having to listen to instructions from an adult (ready for a coach), building up friendships with the other kids (helped them feel like a team more quickly when they moved to under-7s) and basic tag rugby with their sharks and fishes games.”

To find out more about didi rugby classes at Old Coventrians, contact Andy Fox on andy.fox@didirugby.com

For any more information about Old Coventrians mini and junior set-up, contact Jane on janewrfu@gmail.com.

didi coach Emily gets national recognition in weightlifting

A woman in a blue leotard lifts a heavy weight above her head

didi rugby Harrogate’s assistant coach, Emily Barber, is familiar with success both on the rugby pitch and weightlifting mat. 

Emily started helping out at didi rugby classes in 2021 to complete her bronze Duke of Edinburgh award and hasn’t looked back since. 

A woman in a blue leotard lifts a heavy weight above her head
Emily competing in a weightlifting competition

She soon became a valuable member of the coaching team, assisting at weekly sessions and displaying a natural ability to engage and encourage the little ones with the activities. 

“I loved helping out and am very grateful for all the experience didi rugby has given me”, Emily says. 

Harrogate Rugby Club

 

“I really enjoy meeting all the future rugby stars, seeing how they develop every week and building a relationship with them – alongside learning new skills from the coaches.” 

Emily is a keen rugby player herself and has played a huge role in introducing the game to more girls at Harrogate Rugby Club.

“I started playing rugby when I was in Year 7 but there wasn’t much of a set up at my local club,” Emily says. 

A lady in a red top runs alongside a young boy, smiling, holding a rugby ball
Emily (right) has fun coaching

“Over the last three to four years, we worked hard to get more girls involved and now we can field a full team. 

“Harrogate rugby girls training and matches are so much fun and I’ve made so many new friends whilst playing.” 

didi rugby Harrogate franchise owners, Mike and Lucy Barnett, are very proud of Emily’s progression and so pleased that she has worked her way into the Under-16s Yorkshire Development squad. 

Olympic weightlifting

 

As well as being a star on the field, Emily’s has talents elsewhere too. 

To improve her performance on the pitch, Emily began weight training at Harrogate Rugby Club with her strength and conditioning coach, Podium Performance. Impressed with her dedication, her coach suggested she trialled for Olympic Weightlifting training.

She found a natural talent for lifting and has continued her weightlifting journey with coach Luke Stopford at Yorkshire Strength in Castleford. 

After building on her personal bests, she competed in her first British Weightlifting Tier 3 competition. 

Just 4 weeks after her first competition, Emily competed in the British Age Group Championships, a Tier 1 competition, which is the highest level in Britain for lifters aged under 23. 

National scene

 

Taking place in Birmingham, Emily burst onto the national scene and took 3rd place on the podium in her age group – a huge achievement. 

She says: “I have a busy year ahead but can’t wait to see where my rugby and Olympic Weight lifting training takes me in 2023.” 

“Emily is a fantastic young role model for all our didi stars!” say Mike and Lucy. 

“We are delighted to have her as part of our didi rugby coaching team.”

READ MORE: Free sessions and children’s book reading for nurseries and pre-schools

READ MORE: Find a didi rugby class near you

WATCH: See Mike Barnett explain why the didi rugby franchise model is so successful…

NEWS: Free session and children’s book reading for nurseries and pre-schools

A blonde-haired girl crawls through a tunnel holding a rugby ball at one of our nurseries. She is smiling.

Would your children like a fun run-around while learning new skills?

Following that, would they like to then settle down to be read a book which promotes friendship and resilience?

Would your nursery or education establishment like to enjoy an exciting visit from one of the country’s favourite sports class providers?

Then give didi rugby Midlands a shout.

We are currently offering free taster sessions to nurseries and pre-schools in our area to give you an idea of what we can offer.

Physical activity

Our physical activity taster session will include all of the fun games that have made didi rugby so popular with children and parents alike across England over the last seven years.

Our sessions are in line with ELYS guidance with specific focus on movement, handling, physical development, communication, language and numbers.

Then, we will settle the children down and read them our fantastic children’s story book based on the lives of our friendly mascots, Dougie and Daisy.

Dougie Can Catch’ tells the story of a boy who struggles to catch a ball but with perseverance and the support of his group of friends, finally manages to learn to catch, with spectacular results!

You never know, Dougie and Daisy may be able to make an appearance too…

Nurseries and pre-schools

didi rugby CEO Vicky Macqueen said: “This free taster session gives nurseries and pre-schools in the area the opportunity to find out what has made didi rugby so popular around the country.

“We also offer didi sports in schools which extends our variety of offering to the likes of basketball, dodgeball and cricket.

“I am certain that the children who get to take part in a didi visit will have lots of fun and learn some valuable skills while doing so.

“We can’t wait to meet you.”

If you are interested in didi rugby delivering a free taster session or, to find out more information, please get in touch with us at info@didirugby.com.

WATCH: School children love the didi rugby festival…

 

 

didi rugby Bristol: A family outlet for the Gullys

The Gully family, Rochelle, Simon and Tyler all wearing red didi rugby kit.

didi rugby Bristol leads, Simon and Rochelle Gully are looking forward to providing an opportunity for young children that wasn’t available for their son at such a young age.

Simon has a professional rugby career behind him, so he is excited to begin his new journey with didi rugby.

Because of the immense love and passion he has for the sport, he sees didi rugby as an opportunity for him to spend his weekend doing something he loves, as opposed to it being “work.” Simon currently works as a carpenter five days a week, so can’t wait to have didi rugby as his “fun day” of the week.

Simon is also a rugby coach at one of didi Bristol’s venues, Kingswood RFC.

Two ladies in a red top and a man wearing a red top and blue cap smiling.
The Gully family

Before meeting Simon, Rochelle had no experience with the sport.

“Rugby has given our family an outlet to grow closer and to bond over a sport we all enjoy,” Rochelle says.

“We are all season ticket holders at Bristol Bears, and we go to watch all the games. This allowed us to all grow closer as a family. Having two teenagers, it’s nice to go and experience something we all know and love together.

“We have been discussing the possibility of running kids rugby classes for a few years now but the timing never quite worked.

“This year seemed like the perfect time to make that jump, especially with our daughter Tyler now being 16, she can get involved with coaching at the classes.”

Young age groups

Their son, Lucas, started his rugby journey at four years old. Simon and Rochelle struggled to find him a class so young that best suited and supported his age and ability.

“We really struggled to find him a class at that age as no club really provided for such young age groups,” Rochelle said.

“The coach at a class which was slightly too old for him said to bring him along, but he was too overwhelmed to continue.

“If didi rugby had been around at the time, we would have 100% taken him to classes there.

“Because of this experience we had, we want to provide this opportunity for and build confidence in children from a young age.”

didi rugby Bristol launch party

didi rugby Bristol will be launching with an exciting event on Friday 9 September; with didi mascots Dougie and Daisy making a special appearance!

The event will be kicking off at Clifton RFC from 9:00am-12:00 Noon. The action will then be moving over to Pomphrey Hill Pavilion from 1pm.

The Gully family are all looking forward to meeting the kids, the rest of the didi team and to experience a brand new venue.

WATCH: Leicester Tigers and didi rugby launch exciting new partnership.

“Our son, Oliver, is our biggest driving force.”

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards wearing red didi rugby kit, holding their son, Oliver.

didi rugby Newcastle lead Hattie Elliott-Edwards is determined to give her son Oliver the opportunities she never had.

With an impressive rugby career behind her, she is keen to offer her son the chance to learn new skills and grow in confidence while doing something he loves at a young age.

Along with fellow lead Sophie Elliott-Edwards, Hattie is excited to get their new didi rugby classes in the north-east off the ground with some much-awaited classes day at Novocastrians RFC on Saturday 3 September.

It will be the launch pad for Oliver and a host of new members to begin a grounding that Hattie always wishes she has enjoyed.

“Our son, Oliver, is our biggest driving force,” she says.

“It’s about providing the opportunity for him and other children in Newcastle and the surrounding area to build confidence through rugby and play.”

“We both want to give Oliver and the other didi children the opportunities I had and the skills I developed throughout my rugby career, but were not available for me at his age.”

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards wearing red didi rugby kit, holding their son, Oliver.
Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards, didi rugby Newcastle leads with their son, Oliver.

Hattie’s rugby background

With Hattie having a well-rounded rugby background, she is really looking forward to promoting the teamwork, leadership, social skills and self-belief that she has developed through the sport, to young children.

Fluctuating between the first and second team at Lichfield rugby club, she played in the same team as one of our didi ambassadors, Heather Fisher. “I was never one of the greatest,” Hattie said. “But it was a great opportunity to play alongside them.”

Sophie and Hattie both agree that they don’t just see the business side to building a didi franchise, “it’s about didi rugby’s ethos,” Hattie said. “Bringing enjoyment in sport to young people. There was nothing like this around when I was playing, so we’re excited to provide this for other young children.”

Novocastrians RFC partnership

With Newcastle being a very football-focused area, Sophie and Hattie are both excited to bring the sense of rugby community to the area.

didi rugby Newcastle will be partnering with Novocastrians RFC, with classes being held at the venue.

Having produced some of the best female rugby players, including didi ambassador Sarah Hunter, Novocastrians RFC are looking forward to welcoming didi rugby Newcastle to the family.

“The club are very proactive and family friendly,” Hattie said. “They have a very similar ethos to didi rugby and have built a lovely community with the rugby mums and dads who attend the club.

“Our longer-term goals are to spread further across Newcastle, but we’re looking forward to building a relationship with Novocastrians, promoting opportunity for young people.”

As the launch party of didi rugby Newcastle fast approaches, Sophie and Hattie are excited to bring fun and happiness to the children. “This is the start of an adventure,” Sophie said. “We want to celebrate the potential of what we’re doing.”

READ MORE: The rugby-mad family are launching didi rugby Bristol.

WATCH: Coach Jake shares his journey so far.

The rugby-mad Gully family are launching didi rugby Bristol

The Gully family, Rochelle, Simon and Tyler all wearing red didi rugby kit.

A refreshing new outlook on children’s rugby will be launching in Bristol next month.

A family of complete rugby fanatics, Simon, Rochelle and Tyler Gully, will be bringing didi rugby to the area!

didi rugby Bristol will be launching with an exciting launch event on Friday 9 September! All visitors will be eligible for a free taster session. The event will be kicking off at Clifton Rugby Club from 9:00am-12:00Noon. The action will then be moving over to Pomphrey Hill Pavilion from 1pm.

Rochelle and Simon Gully stood on a large rock at the beach.
Simon and Rochelle Gully – didi rugby Bristol leads.

The Gully family

All visitors will be guaranteed lots of fun delivered by a Gully family who cannot wait to bet started.

Rochelle was introduced to rugby by her husband, who she watched play the game for two decades.

“It was inevitable that the kids would love it too,” she says. “I spend most Sundays in wellies and a raincoat being a supportive rugby mum.

“I can honestly say that being part of the rugby community has given our family a physical and emotional outlet, a shared love and a fantastic social circle. We have made life-long friends thanks to rugby.

Sports

“When my son started rugby he was overwhelmed and a little scared. If there had been a didi rugby back then, we could have introduced it to him earlier and made the transition to outdoor sports easier.

“I am really looking forward to supporting a new generation of rugby dads – and mums like me – to inspire their little ones to be brave and have fun.

Two ladies in a red top and a man wearing a red top and blue cap smile
The Gully family

Simon, was fortunate enough to grow up in a family who loved a variety of sports but he soon decided that rugby was his favourite.

“It combined all of my favourite elements of sport,” Simon said. “Skill, physicality, speed, endurance, control and teamwork.”

Simon’s professional career

Simon has played rugby for over 40 years and was lucky enough to play the game professionally too.

“I have bestowed my rugby passion to my children and have been able to support them in their rugby journey, as both their coach and biggest supporter, Simon said.

“I have played and loved rugby all my life. It is my passion, my challenge, my happy place! I have been coached by some of the best over the years and the respect I have for them is immense.

“I can’t wait to use all I have learnt to inspire the younger generation to love the game as much as I do.”

Local club

The youngest member of didi Bristol, Tyler Gully, was introduced to rugby by her dad, Simon. She started playing for her local club when she was 11.

“I am thrilled at the thought of coaching kids how to play the sport that inspires me and others across the globe,” Tyler said. “Becoming a didi coach will enable me to encourage young children to get active, develop new skills and, most importantly, have fun and make new friends.”

The Gully family are all looking forward to meeting new didi rugby superstars on 9 September!

WATCH: Leicester Tigers and didi rugby launch exciting new partnership.

didi rugby Newcastle launch party

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards wearing red didi rugby kit, holding their son, Oliver.

Bringing an exciting approach of children’s rugby to the North-East are rugby supporters, Hattie and Sophie Elliott-Edwards.

Our latest didi rugby franchise, didi rugby Newcastle, is opening with a launch party on 3rd September 2022.

The local area is home to a Premiership Rugby club in Newcastle Falcons and the sport has grown hugely in popularity there over the past decade.

didi rugby Newcastle leads

“Our son is our inspiration for becoming franchisees,” Hattie and Sophie said. “It is an opportunity we want for our son, who is a big driving force for us in bringing didi rugby to the North East.”

Hattie has previously played rugby with Lichfield Ladies RFC; starting off in the under 16’s and working her way up to the senior teams.

She had opportunities to play at regional and Premiership level, alongside some of the greatest players in women’s rugby. didi CEO, Vicky Macqueen and ambassadors Heather Fisher and Sarah Hunter.

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards wearing red didi rugby kit, holding their son, Oliver.
Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards, didi rugby Newcastle leads.

During her time at Lichfield, Hattie coached under 18s and under 16s at the club at regional level.

“I’ve gained so much from rugby and truly believe in the holistic benefits the sport can provide,” Hattie said. “I put so much of my successes in life down to the mind-set, social skills, teamwork and self-belief learned when playing and coaching rugby.”

The other half of didi rugby Newcastle, Sophie, is a teaching assistant specialising in early years and Special Educational Needs (SEN) education. She will bring with her the knowledge and facilitation of the social and educational aspects that didi rugby incorporate, including relevant key stages for early years.

“I believe in the inclusivity sport and all the positives it provides for young children,” Sophie says. “This includes increasing physical development, teamwork, building social skills and, most importantly, having fun.”

Get involved

Hattie and Sophie said: “We are looking forward to this new chapter and encouraging little ones to get active and to develop a love of physical activity from an early age.

“For our first venue, we have teamed up with Novocastrains RFC. They are a very proactive, friendly club and we are very excited to join forces with such a great club.

“Novocastrians already have a great junior section that any aspiring didi stars could progress to, after the age of six.”

Click here to book your child’s free taster session. Be quick! Spaces are limited.

didi rugby Newcastle Facebook.

READ MORE: Exciting new launch of didi rugby Bristol.

WATCH: Coach Jake shares his journey so far.

 

 

didi ambassador – Manu Tuilagi 

A man in a black shirt holds his young daughter who is wearing didi rugby kit
The youngest of six brothers in the Samoan rugby dynasty to have played for Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi has had a glittering career for both club and country. 
 
Having four older siblings, who have all represented Samoa, it was no surprise that this firecracker of a rugby player quickly found a passion for the sport. 

Manu Tuilagi

He moved to the UK as a teenager to follow his brothers on their respective career paths, before joining Rumney RFC’s youth setup.
 
Shortly after, he moved to Leicester to join the Tigers’ academy at 15. He made his first official appearances for the Tigers in 2009, but his first season with the senior side was the 2010-11 season where he quickly became an established first-team regular.

 

A man in a black shirt holds his young daughter who is wearing didi rugby kit
didi rugby ambassador Manu Tuilagi and his daughter

 

Flying his way through the England ranks, he played for the U16 and U18 age group teams, making a hugely physical impact along the way.

He became England’s youngest Rugby World Cup player at just 20 years, beating previous record holder Jonny Wilkinson.  

He scored England’s try in the memorable 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand before being involved in the final defeat by South Africa. 
Tuilagi left Leicester in 2020 to join Premiership rivals Sale Sharks. 
WATCH: Manu Tuilagi joins the didi rugby family as an ambassador…

Exciting new launch of didi rugby Bristol

Rochelle and Simon Gully stood on a large rock at the beach.

One of the country’s biggest rugby hotbeds will soon have didi rugby classes on its doorstep.

The amazing city of Bristol is the latest venue for a launch of didi rugby and classes are expected to start later in the summer.

Led by a local family team, the Gully’s, Rochelle, Simon and Tyler say they can’t wait to start encouraging the next generation of rugby players to an area that has generated some of the country’s most famous players.

didi rugby Bristol leads

“I was introduced to rugby by my husband and have enjoyed watching him play for two decades,” said Rochelle.

“It was inevitable that the kids would love it too, so I have spent most Sundays in wellies and a raincoat being a supportive rugby mum.

“I can honestly say that being part of the rugby community has given our family a physical and emotional outlet, a shared love and a fantastic social circle.

“We have made life-long friends thanks to rugby and I am really looking forward to supporting a new generation of rugby parents to inspire their little ones to be brave and have fun.”

Rochelle and Simon Gully stood on a large rock at the beach.
Simon and Rochelle Gully- didi rugby Bristol leads.

Vicky Macqueen

didi rugby CEO, Vicky Macqueen added: “We’re very excited for our new didi Bristol launch. More young children will now have the opportunity to get involved in our incredible sport.

“Having dozens of venues across the country means that more and more children will be able to get active, have fun, enjoy sport and grow in confidence.

“Simon and Rochelle have been big advocates of didi rugby sine we first launched classes in the Midlands and it is great to have them on board.”

Venues and launch times for Bristol sessions will follow soon.

didi rugby Bromley and Newcastle

Bristol will follow hot on the footsteps of two more new venues; didi rugby Bromley and Newcastle.

Bromley are hoping to offer first taster sessions on Saturday 6 August, with Newcastle’s launch likely to be early September.

Bromley classes will be led by former England Women’s rugby captain Maxine Edwards.

While Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards will bring loads of energy and excitement to classes in the north-east.

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards wearing red didi rugby kit, holding their son, Oliver.
Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards, didi rugby Newcastle leads.

We can guarantee anyone heading to any of our three new venues, that their children will be in very good hands and will be learning to have fun and grow in confidence in safe and positive environments.

If you would like to put your child’s name down for a free taster session, please contact info@didirugby.com and follow didi rugby on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more details.

You can also keep up to date by following both new areas Facebook pages at…

didi rugby Bristol Facebook

didi rugby Newcastle Facebook  

didi rugby Bromley Facebook 

Read more: didi rugby is coming to Newcastle and Bromley. 

Watch: Leicester Tigers and didi rugby launch exciting new partnership. Hear from both CEOs…

didi rugby is coming to Newcastle and Bromley

Maxine Bromley (right) stands with didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen (left) and former England flanker Maggie Alphonsi

There’s some great news for young rugby fans in Newcastle and Bromley – didi rugby is coming your way soon. 

Our classes in Bromley will be led by former England Women’s rugby captain Maxine Edwards.

So our new didi stars will certainly be learning from the very best. 

Maxine was England skipper when didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen flew out to represent her country in New Zealand as an 18-year-old.

Maxine Edwards

She will be bringing a huge amount of energy and knowledge to classes in and around the Bromley area.

“I first became interested in playing rugby at 18 and joined Bromley RFC in Hayes” she said.

“Since then, I have represented the South East Region and the South Division, playing at Blackheath FC and Saracens RFC, before achieving over 40 caps as an England International and being fortunate to captain the side for 2 successful seasons. 

Maxine Bromley (right) stands with didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen (left) and former England flanker Maggie Alphonsi
Maxine Bromley (right) stands with didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen (left) and former England flanker Maggie Alphonsi

“I have been working as a secondary school teacher in Kent for 18 years, working with children from 11 to 18 years of age and have been looking for a real and long-term opportunity to encourage young people to experience the joy that being active, and sport has given me.”

Our new classes in Newcastle will be coming soon too. Lead by Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards, they are expected to launch this summer.

didi rugby Newcastle

The local area is home to a Premiership Rugby club in Newcastle Falcons and the sport has grown hugely in popularity there over the past decade.

The pair are both very excited to join the didi rugby family and to provide local  children with fun activities and new skills. 

Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards stand together with young son Oliver wearing red didi rugby tops
Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards stand together with young son Oliver wearing red didi rugby tops

More information regarding the time and dates of the launches will be following soon. In the mean time, if you would like to register your child for a free taster session when classes in. both areas become live, please email info@didirugby.com.

You can also keep up to date by following both new areas Facebook pages at…

Read more: didi rugby announce industry giants SAMURAI as their new kit provider

Read more: Keri Holdsworth’s family legacy is string as nephew Kit starts didi rugby

WATCH…. What is didi rugby?