There are only a few days left to help didi rugby director Matt Cropp win the Amazon Small Business of the Year Award.
And we are not afraid to admit that, here at didi rugby HQ, we need your help please!
As well as running didi rugby with Vicky Macqueen and other members of the didi HQ team, Matt owns Rock Star Academy – a business selling musical instruments and teaching people how to play through an online music school.
Instruments encourage kids to come away from computerised devices and help them develop a hobby that tests their brains, physical agility and dexterity, to increase their enjoyment and confidence.
Matt is hugely passionate about what he does, encouraging people to play instruments and strongly advocating ethically-sourced wood for his products. In fact, all of Rock Star Academy’s products are built from wood that is replaced at source.
Rock Star Academy has been a huge part of his life for a decade and winning the Amazon Award would be a huge achievement.
“Very much like watching children enjoy didi rugby, it’s great to see youngsters having fun and enjoying learning with a musical instrument,” said Matt. “Watching them smile as they progress is lovely to see and so is the confidence they build while doing so.
“You may not play a musical instrument, but I guarantee you have been moved or motivated by someone sharing the music they created,” said Matt.
“If you do play a musical instrument you will know the joy it creates when others hear you play and the hypnotic relaxation it provides when you are solely focused on playing it.
Rock Star Academy
“Music evokes a primeval response in all of us and I believe it’s fundamental to the existence of human culture.
Building a business that contributes to human culture with a positive impact on the environment is an absolute passion of mine.
didi rugby founder Vicky Macqueen said: “Matt is such a passionate person, always involving himself in community projects and giving back to support others so it would be great if you could take a minute out of your time to vote for him.”
Rock Star Academy has been shortlisted for the Amazon Small Business of the Year Award. To help lead Matt to success, log on to the link below and vote.
Five years to the day after Robyn Lock thought she would never play rugby again, the Ospreys back-rower was included in the Wales Women’s squad to play in this autumn’s internationals.
The didi rugby South Wales franchise owner’s story is one of those that make you sit up and take notice…and then go and tell everyone you know.
When Robyn was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, she steadfastly refused to let it define her life. Now, she is in line to win a first cap for her country when Wales play Spain in Madrid in early November. There will be plenty of people excited to see the words Robyn Lock will be on the team sheet.
Robyn’s selection will delight everyone who knows her. It will also inspire the hundreds of children and parents who have got to know her while she has taught at the ever-growing amount of didi rugby venues that now operate in south Wales following its launch last year.
“I felt very emotional when the squad was announced,” she said. “Every tackle I made, every extra minute in the gym and every time I said I couldn’t go out with friends because I needed an early night or wanted to work on my game, now seems all worth it.
“It was my mum who pointed out that my call-up came five years to the day after I was diagnosed with lymphoma. When I think back to that time, I was so weak I could hardly walk 10 yards without taking a deep breath. It’s some transformation. I had a good cry when I found out and the realisation kicked in of what I had achieved.
“At first, I didn’t know whether or not to bring up the fact that I had lymphoma all of those years ago – but I want to use my story to hopefully help others.
“To be honest, I am really proud of what I have come through and I hope others who read this story, who may be suffering from something in their lives, can see that something knocked me off of my feet too – but it didn’t stop me being determined to make things better.”
An Ospreys’ regular, Robyn was rewarded for her consistency by being offered a spot in Wales ‘Top Up’ training sessions this summer and then moved up to the extended full squad for the build up to the autumn series where Wales will play Spain, Ireland, Scotland and the Barbarians.
When the reduced squad was announced, Robyn was told she had earned a place in it and she naturally phoned her mum to tell her before anyone else.
Jaine Lock had been a huge part of her recovery from the initial diagnosis and was probably as proud as her daughter at the news that she had just become an international rugby player.
A nutritionist and personal trainer, Jaine moved back from New Zealand to become her daughter’s full-time carer after hearing news of her cancer five years ago.
At the time, she returned to see Robyn suffering from severe fatigue, struggling to sleep and itching all over her body. Six months of chemotherapy also saw her lose her hair.
The chances of Robyn ever having the energy to even walk onto a rugby field again, let alone make tackles and take hits seemed a mile away at the time.
“That had been taken away from me,” said Robyn. “I didn’t even feel well enough to go and watch a game because my immune system had been shot to pieces by chemotherapy. By this time, I was on all sorts of pills and was having panic attacks too. A real sense of doom took hold of me.
“But I also did not want cancer to be my identity. I didn’t want to be the girl with cancer. Rugby was my identity, right from a young age when I used to go and watch my dad and brother play and I didn’t want to lose that.
“My mum sat me down one day and asked: ‘What else do you want to do while you are battling this?’ and I told her that I wanted to play rugby again and come back fitter and stronger than when I left it.
“I was so lucky to have her and my family with me. Mum told me that she would never let me give up on that dream and she never let me lose that drive. She was true to her word.”
Robyn’s last chemotherapy session came in April 2015 and she went into remission. Her strength and energy slowly came back and her return to rugby came in the form of the Ospreys 7s training.
One day, after a particularly fast sprint in one session, a team-mate shouted: “Ah look…Lock’s back!”
It meant more to Robyn than her team-mate could ever know. She had beaten her cancer and the world was, once again, her oyster.
Wales begin their autumn series on November 3 in Madrid and if Robyn makes her debut she will be standing proud in a red jersey singing the national anthem with more reasons than most to shed the odd tear or two.
“I have watched my friends play for Wales and cheered them on for years, now I could be standing next to them and giving it all on the field. After what has happened, it really will be a dream come true,” she said.
There will be plenty of fun and games to be had when didi rugby Grantham opens its doors to the public with a launch event on Saturday 16 November at Kesteven Rugby Club.
It will be the start of a new franchise which is being run by local resident Kerri Arlando.
Beginning at 9.00am, free taster sessions are on offer to anyone who wants to come along and see what didi rugby is all about as we try to spread the values of fun, confidence and activity throughout Lincolnshire and beyond.
Each one of the three didi rugby age groups will have a session on the day and they cover 18 months to 3 years, 3 years to 4 years and 4 years to 6 years of age.
Regular classes will then begin the following Saturday (23rd) from 9.00am and midweek sessions will also kick off on Wednesday mornings at 9.30am from 27 November.
‘didi rugby is perfect’
Understandably, Kerri can’t wait to get things up and running with didi rugby Grantham at a club she already has strong links with.
Kerri still plays rugby and coaches the Under-11s, meanwhile husband Dimitri coaches the Under-13s. And with two boys Leonard (12) and Alfred (10) playing the game too, rugby features heavily in the Arlando family’s weekly routine.
But with her own children growing up fast, Kerri says she misses the interaction of the little ones and so, with a high demand for something like didi rugby in the area, she decided to set up a franchise.
“didi rugby is perfect for what I want to do,” said Kerri. “It is something I can do when they kids are at school and is something that I really love because I love coaching the little kids. They are so funny and I know that my forte.
“We have had lots of parents asking how old you have to be to join the club at Kesteven but we do not have anything below our under-6s, so didi rugby can get them involved from a very young age.
Kesteven Rugby Club
“Lots of parents at the club have got small children and as soon as they find out that didi rugby is here, I am sure they bring their kids along as well. I am hoping it is going to be really good.”
didi rugby founder and CEO, Vicky Macqueen, said that Kerri’s passion for what she is doing is obvious.
“Kerri loves what she does and she is a well-known and popular figure around the area so we are all sure she will create a cracking atmosphere for little ones to come along and have some fun and learn some new skills.”
To book your child on for a free taster session at Kesteven on launch day or any of the other classes on offer, by visiting here
New didi rugby classes will be starting at Old Newtonians RFC in Leicester Forest East soon.
Steve Carter will be driving the sessions at what is a real family club whose junior section has grown at a rapid rate in recent years.
Old Newts (as they are better known locally) have an under-7s and 8s tag set-up, a thriving under-11s and a good micros set-up too.
“There has been no junior rugby at Old Newts for 25 years and we are growing our academy for 4 to 11-year-olds all the time,” said Steve.
“We have had a lot of young children starting with us at the age of four or five and many of them have younger brothers or sisters with them so we wanted to get something set up so they could play too.
Feeding the academy
“didi rugby is perfect for that and it will hopefully go on to give us a pipeline of children feeding the academy.
“We are all looking forward to getting didi classes up and running. We are a real family club with a family feel to it and there is a great atmosphere here with lots of members of various families being involved in the club from seniors down to juniors.”
Didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said: “Steve is very keen to get things up and running at Old Newtonians and we are delighted to have such a lovely club involved in hosting didi rugby classes.
“There is a really good family feel about Old Newts and I am sure it will be an ideal place to host didi classes here in Leicestershire.”
Details about when they new classes will be held will be announced soon.
It is no wonder mum Sally Nash is beaming when she tells the tale of her son Tommy Oliver’s battle with Hypermobilty Syndrome.
The five-year-old from Bramley near Basingstoke has a condition where bodily joints easily move beyond the expected range.
As a result, it can be hard to control those joints and they can dislocate easily. Hypermobility Syndrome can also lead to pain, chronic fatigue and a host of other challenges at times too.
With that in mind, it was with trepidation that Sally first took Tommy to a didi rugby class some 18 months ago.
Now, he is thriving. And Sally is grateful for everything that has happened to her lad during his time in a didi rugby shirt.
“When he first started, he couldn’t walk in a straight line, let alone run in one and,” said Sally. “Now, with the help of his didi coaches, he is fully active and runs around taking part in everything. He absolutely loves it.
“His confidence has grown in a massive way. Previously, he would hardly ever leave my side but now we have friends round to play and that is great to see.
“He loves his coaches and calls them didi Donna and didi Caitlin. Tommy often talks about them and we sometimes use them to help change his behaviour at home! We say if he doesn’t improve, we are going to tell didi Donna! It works too.
“He sulks if we have to miss a session for whatever reason. He loves it. It is fun and he is often upset when they are finished.
“The free taster sessions helped us get him into it. At many clubs, you have to book a term in advance but didi were really flexible and let us see how he got on and coped with the physical demands of the classes.
“They have been really supportive and if he has a bad day with his Hypermobility Syndrome, they alter what they do to make sure he doesn’t feel left out.
“He has come on so much with his motor skills through didi it is amazing. He loves it and we love it too.
One of his coaches is franchise co-owner, Donna Clark.
“Tommy always comes bounding up to us and into class with a big smile on his face and he is clearly thriving. His enthusiasm and giggle is infectious and if I could bottle it, I would,” said Donna.
“There is nothing he won’t try and through his determination and enjoyment of didi rugby, we have seen a huge improvement in his balance and coordination. There really is no stopping him. He is an absolute joy to coach.”
didi rugby have teamed up with one of the country’s most-loved first-aid educational providers to offer top-notch training to new franchise owners and coaches.
The new partnership with Green Box First Aid will be called ‘didi first aid’ and will involve a lot more than up-skilling new and current coaches.
Sessions will be put on at various didi rugby sites across the country to offer paediatric training for parents – as well as special learning demonstrations for children to help them learn life-saving techniques to use themselves.
Green Box First Aid have had years of providing some much-loved educational sessions, providing skills and knowledge to help people who may not survive without intervention. Crucially, Green Box’s delivery in those lessons is done in a way which people can relate to.
Operating across the country, MD Paul Markham and his team give attendees confidence to tackle everything from day to day cuts, bumps and bruises to life threatening situations.
didi first aid
didi rugby are always fully committed to providing sessions in a safe environment and promoting a healthy livelihood. Now they are delighted to be able to offer all of its didi first aid training under the leadership of Green Box.
Those who complete a didi first aid course will receive an official didi first aid at work Level 3 VTQ qualification, with a paediatric focus. This can also be used by those who complete the course as an emergency first aid at work qualification.
didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said she was delighted to complete a partnership with such a well-respected five-star company.
“We are very excited to join up with Green Box,” she said. “Paul and his team have a huge amount of experience in delivering first aid for all ages in various settings from work places to schools.
Crucial life skills
“They are also as passionate as we are, about ensuring that adults and children are aware of what to do if the unexpected happens.
“To have someone like Paul on board, in our team, means we have another member of didi HQ who is committed to the same values and ethos as the rest of us.
“Paul’s enthusiasm is infectious and he will be up-skilling adults and children on some crucial life skills while he works with us. This official didi partner will make sure that everyone is on the same page and that crucial first aid skills are offered to everyone who is involved with didi rugby.
“Safety is paramount in all aspects of didi rugby life and didi rugby first aid will ensure the best grounding is given to everyone involved.”
Paul said he couldn’t wait to get to working with the didi family.
“We are so excited to be working closely with a fantastic company like didi rugby,” he said. “didi first aid will see us training didi’s coaches in really important first aid skills so that children are safe in the environment.
“We are also excited about launching our work with under-6s as well.
“We are going to give those under-6s the opportunity to learn some really valuable skills which will help them and will introduce them to first aid.
“Green Box have worked with this age group for a long while and make learning for this age group both fun and easy to understand.”
Exciting partnership sees the launch of ‘didi first aid’ services
didi rugby’s launch in Italy took another huge step forwards as a team of delegates from Colorno Rugby Club visited England for three days of training.
Michele Mordacci, Sara Iounesi and Irene Campanini enjoyed a fact-finding weekend with the team from didi HQ as they were taken through all of the elements which have combined to make didi rugby such a huge success in the UK.
The knowledge gleaned from their visit to the Midlands will enable them to set up the same systems in Italy as didi rugby spreads its fun and values to Europe.
didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said it was great to spend some time with the visitors.
The didi rugby Italy team enjoyed a warm welcome
“We have been to Colorno and enjoyed their wonderful hospitality and so it was time for us to return the favour,” she said. “We already know Rugby Colorno share the same values as we do and we cannot wait for didi to hit the ground running in Italy.
“Sara, Michele and Irene are perfect ambassadors for their club and are seen by all of us at didi HQ as friends, not just work colleagues. They were warmly received by children and parents at the classes they got involved in and they have made lots of new friends too after socialising with the same passion as they work with!”
didi rugby classes in Italy are set to start very soon.
didi rugby Italy team visit HQ to kick-start partnership
didi rugby classes are growing in Leicestershire again with new launches coming up in Huncote and Stoney Stanton.
Sessions for all three didi age groups will be coming to both venues.
The Huncote launch will take place on Saturday 7 September at Huncote Leisure Centre with free taster sessions for all three age groups from 8.45am to 10.45am.
Regular classes with then begin the following Saturday at the same times.
There is always plenty of fun at a didi rugby class
Meanwhile, the launch at Stoney Stanton will take place on Monday 9 September from 4pm to 5pm.
The venue for that will be the Stoney Stanton Village Hall and that is where regular classes will then commence from Friday 13 September from 4pm to 6pm, again serving all three didi age groups.
And there is a new venue for didi rugby in Lutterworth, starting on Saturday 31 August.
Due to Lutterworth Rugby Club having World Cup events throughout the autumn, didi classes will move to Steph’s Swim School, Sheridan House, Gilmorton Road, Lutterworth, LE17 4DY. All visitors are asked to park in the nearby medical centre car park and walk up to the venue. Classes begin at 9.40am.
Dom Osborn will be head coach at all of the above venues. The secondary school PE teacher has already been delivering didi rugby sessions as a coach at other venues in the county and seen her daughter enjoy didi rugby sessions too.
didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said: “Because Dom has been coaching didi rugby for a while now, we already know the passion and energy she will bring to these classes.
“She has a great rapport with both kids and parents and, like Dom, we can’t wait to get the sessions up and running.”
New Leicestershire didi rugby classes launching in Huncote and Stoney Stanton
To book your child in for a free taster session at any of the venues mentioned in this story, please click on the appropriate village name for Huncote, Stoney Stanton or Lutterworth email email@example.com
The first event of the newly-formed partnership between didi rugby and the Burford Academy has taken place at Reading RFC.
Former England team mates Vicky Macqueen and Rachael Burford have joined forces to provide a day of fun, games and activities for children aged between 18 months and 18 years of age.
Vicky’s didi rugby operates franchises across the country, while Rachael runs the coaching academies for girls aged between 8 and 18 alongside her commitments in the professional game.
The first one of many joint ventures took place at one of didi rugby Reading’s partner clubs, Reading RFC.
“It’s all about collaboration and bringing great people together to work side by side,” said Vicky.
didi rugby and Burford Academy children had a great day
“We are all spreading the gospel of rugby and physical activity and it’s great to see young people growing in confidence by playing the game.
It was great to see the didis having fun with their coaches while the older girls were working so well with their role models, Rachael Burford and (England scrum-half) Leanne Riley.
“Rachael and I played together and since I retired, I have watched her progress. Now she is a business woman too promoting the sport and I hope this will be a long partnership that both of us enjoy.
“This particular partnership creates a nice pathway specifically for girls. Anything we can do to grow the game for girls is great to see.”
Rachael said the group at Reading at been split into two different working age groups: “We want them to get to know each other and so we start the day with an ice-breaking session to get them laughing and interacting,” she said.
“Our camps are for girls from all over the area and are from all different clubs. Some have been playing for half a year and some for eight years. We take all ages from post didi classes up to under-18s.
“Every time I see the girls growing in confidence and saying they are having a good day, that really is fulfilment and I always walk away buzzing.”
Rachael’s England Women’s colleague Leanne Riley, fresh from her country’s summer Tests in America, added: “These sort of opportunities were few an far between when I was growing up. It’s nice to get involved with Rachael, see her way of working and it has been a really good session.
“I come from a big family with little ones running around so to see didi rugby in action is great too. It’s a great concept and it’s nice to see them running around with a rugby ball in their hand, having a lot of fun.”
didi rugby Reading’s Donna Clark played a huge part in organising the day.
“Seeing so may happy, smiling faces having fun and running around is great to see,” she said. “Our growth as didi rugby Reading has gone nuts in the last few weeks!
“We now have Saturday and Sunday classes and we are in schools five days a week in lots of locations across Berkshire.
“Our children feed through to clubs like Reading and there is a clear pathway for them when they are too old for didi rugby.
“Coming through the ranks of didi rugby gives them the chance to move into club rugby which is a win/win situation for us and the clubs we partner with.”
didi rugby partnership with Burford Academy launches in style
Marie Chaston’s route to didi rugby has taken the long way round.
And it’s fair to say that she would not be involved in rugby at all were it not for her daughter, Charlotte (13).
“Charlotte has always loved rugby and was running around playing with the boys as a youngster. I used to stand on the sidelines and watch until one day, I was asked to help out coaching,” said Marie. “So I did my courses and got involved.
“I quickly fell in love with the sport and the social side of it was just fantastic. I just wish I had played it myself when I was growing up too!”
When Charlotte reached the age of 12, regulations wouldn’t allow her to play with the boys any more and so Marie set up a girls team at their club, Nottingham Moderns.
didi rugby Nottingham owner Marie Chaston
With half a team coming to regular coaching sessions, Marie met a fellow girls’ coach at West Bridgford who was in the same boat and the two decided to join forces.
They created the South Notts Saphires and now have teams at under-13, 15 and 18 levels. The under-18s then go on to join the West Bridgford Ladies team when they get too old.
Marie’s love of the sport made the prospect of joining didi rugby an exciting one when she saw an advert for new coaches and when she spoke to founder Vicky Macqueen about getting involved, didi rugby Nottingham was born and is due to launch at Nottingham Moderns RFC on Saturday 21 September.
“I am super excited to start my didi rugby journey,” said Marie. “Children’s development has been a passion of mine since 2010 when I started my child-minding business and to link that passion with my love for rugby is a dream come true.
“Having the knowledge of child development and understanding children alongside my experience of coaching and building our girls’ section at Nottingham Moderns (South Notts Sapphires) will I hope, make didi rugby Nottingham a huge success.
“I have been out of childcare for 2 years and I have missed it more than I ever thought I would. Working with children and rugby is who I am and it has taken this time away for me to realise what a huge part of me that is.
“I can’t wait to get started, build the classes and ultimately get more children active, having fun and hopefully building a passion for the wonderful sport that is rugby.”
Vicky Macqueen said she had been very impressed by Marie’s passion and determination since they began talking about launching a franchise in Nottingham.
“It is great to have someone else with Early Years Foundation Stage experience involved in the business,” she said. “Marie is also a string advocate for girls rugby and has already met many other franchise holders after coming to our Annual Presentation Day in July.
“We will be right behind her to help spread the didi values to Nottingham.”
didi rugby Nottingham classes are due to begin at Nottingham Moderns RFC in Wilford on Saturday mornings from 9am to Midday and in Gotham.
Daughter Charlotte’s love of rugby helps get didi rugby Nottingham ready for launch
If you are interested in getting involved as an assistant coach in Marie’s classes, please get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org