Franchise owner Craig Hunter outlines his keys to didi rugby success

Children run around with balls in their hands at Reading Rugby Club's didi rugby session

Two years after launching the didi rugby Reading franchise, co-owner Craig Hunter explains why it has been such a big success and outlines opportunities to those thinking of getting involved.

“We are very pleased with our journey having started it all off with one days a week at one club, Reading RFC,” he said.

“After one month, I decided to go three days a week at work to develop didi rugby and a few months later, I went full time on didi because the opportunity seemed too good.

“It was a big change for me and the family but I bit the bullet and it has been both hard-work and very enjoyable.

“We are now doing 14 classes a week in the area and are working with three rugby clubs: Reading, Aldermaston and Thatcham.

“Our aim with those clubs is to help grow their minis section and, for example, in Reading’s Under-6s, 14 of their players are from didi classes last year. Our links with clubs enable the children to move seamlessly up to tag rugby when they become too old for didi rugby classes.

didi HQ team

“The siblings of those kids often come along and join in too.”

Craig runs the Reading output with co-owners Donna Clark and Clare Swadling and, with coaches like Umit Akyildiz and Sam Treverton taking on plenty of responsibility too, it’s a well-oiled team.

“We are also in 19 schools doing in-school classes or after school school sessions and we have had five other ones approach us recently too. Word of mouth is key and the didi rugby social media is great too,” Craig continued.

“The job i was doing before was great but I was ready for a change and rugby is my passion. I always wanted to do something like this and a number of my friends have come and got involved too which is great.

“It’s a real team effort in Reading and the didi HQ team have been great support as well. There is fantastic leadership here at didi rugby.”

Craig Hunter

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said Craig and the rest of his team had done an amazing job.

“Craig, Donna and everyone involved with didi rugby Reading have been superb at spreading didi rugby’s values and engaging with clubs, schools and the local community,” she said.

“They have worked very hard to grow their provision and have shown just what can be achieved with a didi rugby franchise.

“They have proactive and positive all along and it has been a pleasure for us all at didi rugby HQ to see their growth over the last two years. I am sure there is even more to come in the Reading and Berkshire area.”

  • If you would like an informal chat about the opportunities available to coach or own a didi rugby franchise, email info@didirugby.com or find out more on our website’s ‘franchising‘ section

Read more: 12 Reasons why you should launch a didi rugby franchise

Watch: VIDEO – didi rugby franchising can be a full-time or part-time venture…

Read more: New didi coach Jenny is also the only Level 6 female referee in Leicestershire.

Watch: See what Craig Hunter thought of didi rugby during his early days with the franchise…

 

 

Wheelchair rugby star Coach Umit coaches didi rugby

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball

didi rugby Reading’s latest coaching acquisition is causing a storm.

Umit Akyildiz is an inspirational member of the Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair rugby team.

He is also inspiring young children to have fun and learn new skills leading didi rugby classes too.

Co-owner of didi rugby Reading is Craig Hunter and he is also the chairman of the Banshees.

“I got to know Umit through my involvement with the Banshees,” said Craig.

“He was keen to get involved in didi rugby so I took him to didi rugby classes as a support coach.

“He has been working closely with me and he has brought so much to the classes.

“Umit is a very positive, happy person and he is great with the kids. They absolutely love him.”

Wheelchair rugby

And, as far as Umit is concerned, the feeling is mutual.

“Because of my rugby background I really enjoy being part of didi rugby because it gives me a sense of achievement helping others reach their goals,” he said.

“didi rugby is great for the children’s development because it helps them learn better ways to cope with the highs and lows of life. It also helps children develop patience and rugby skills too.

“Being the first coach didi rugby Reading coach to do so from a wheelchair gives me a sense of accomplishment and knowing that I have achieved something that is so important to my life.”

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball
didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz

Wheelchair rugby is a fusion of ice hockey, handball and rugby which not only involves speed and chair contact but also requires tactical intelligence.

Eight rolling substitutes make up squads of 12, with four players on the court at any one time.

The sport is for male and female disabled athletes with the emphasis on fun, excitement and inclusion, particularly for players with higher levels of impairment.

Club sessions are open to anyone interested in learning more about the game, including volunteers. For further information, please contact berkswr@gmail.com or craigchairman@gmail.com

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Reading Rugby Club

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Reading Rugby Club

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby Reading classes at Reading Rugby Club. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Reading, Caversham, Sonning, Sonning Common, Kidmore End, Sonning Eye, Dunsden Green, Mapledurham, Chazey Heath, Tokers Green, Chalkhouse Green, Cane End, Twyford, Woodley and Play Hatch.

Reading Rugby Club

Reading Rugby Club
Holme Park
Sonning Lane
Reading
Berkshire
RG4 6ST

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

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Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Inglewood Day Nursery & Pre School

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Inglewood Day Nursery & Pre School

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Inglewood Day Nursery & Pre School in Reading. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

Inglewood Day Nursery & Pre School

Sonning Ln
Sonning
Reading
Berkshire
RG4 6ST

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

Book a Class

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Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Blue Coat School

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Blue Coat School

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Blue Coat School in Reading. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Caversham, Sonning, Sonning Common, Kidmore End, Sonning Eye, Dunsden Green, Mapledurham, Chazey Heath, Tokers Green, Chalkhouse Green, Cane End, Twyford, Woodley, Reading, Play Hatch.

Blue Coat School

Sonning Lane
Sonning
Reading
Berkshire
RG4 6SU

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

Book a Class

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Find a didi rugby class in Reading

About didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

Craig Hunter Head Coach – didi rugby Reading

Craig was involved with football ever since he can remember and playing rugby was not really on the radar until the latter part of his time at secondary school, when he joined Reading RFC as a 14-year-old.

That was over four decades ago. Since then, he has been fortunate enough to play for Reading RFC from Under-15s through to Colts and 1st XV level and has also represented Berkshire at Colts level too.

He retired from playing due to injury but continued his connection and has been part of running the club in many capacities, mostly in a voluntary capacity.

He had the privilege of being club chairman for five years and over the last three years, he has held the post of youth chairman; this most recent role is something he really enjoyed; watching the young future players learning to develop and love the sport.

Over this time he has witnessed how rugby and its core values, TREDS – Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship – have literally changed lives and created life-long friendships, not only at Reading but across the world. His recent trip to New Zealand to watch the British & Irish Lions reinforced this!

A few words from Craig

“At Reading RFC, we provide many variations of the game for boys, girls, men and women – the latter through a highly successful girls section, which is growing all the time.

Over the last few years, we have added Walking Rugby, and currently I am involved in developing Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair Rugby Club, for the county of Berkshire and surrounding areas.

Like many clubs, we provide youth rugby from the age of Under-6, however one area we have not managed to cater for is the Under-5s – until now that is.

Having been introduced to Vicky Macqueen and didi rugby, I firmly believe what she is offering is an excellent developmental programme for children from 18 months through, until they start at Under-6s or Under-7s at club rugby.”