didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall launches ready to go

A small girl running with a rugby ball in her hand, smiling

The owner of didi rugby Burntwood knows a thing or two about coaching.

Graham Smith earned a World Cup winners medal after being an assistant coach with England Women when they won the tournament in France in 2014.

Safe to say, any children that come to the launch of his new didi rugby classes at Burntwood RFC on Saturday 24 April, will be safe hands.

Graham will also lead the launch of didi rugby Willenhall the following Saturday (1 May) at Willenhall RFC.

A graphic for the launch of didi rugby Burntwood
didi rugby Burntwood

Strong local clubs

“The two clubs we are running the classes at are two very strong local clubs with a good following and a good place in the community,” said Graham. “They have been very supportive in the build-up to the launch and know the value of attracting young children to play the game we all love.”

As a player, Graham enjoyed his time at the Moseley club and became involved with rugby’s governing body, the RFU as a youth development officer in 1993.

He became involved with women’s rugby at Loughborough University in 2003 where he met the eventual World Cup-winning head coach Gary Street – who is also a didi rugby ambassador.

Moulding an England women’s team which involved the likes of a 17-year-old Emily Scarratt and a 19-year-old Sarah Hunter, not to mention the likes of Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt, Maggie Alphonsi and Katy Daly-Maclean, was hard work but good fun.

Founder of didi rugby

The success of that squad was built on a strong work ethic and culture and it left an indelible mark on Graham who is rightly proud of his achievements.

His early days with the England set-up also introduced him to Vicky Macqueen, a tough and talented back who is now the founder and CEO of didi rugby. The two are back together again with another common goal – to bring sporting fun and activity to as many young children as possible.

“I had always kept an eye on what Vicky was up to with didi rugby when I was coaching CN Poble Nou in Barcelona before the pandemic struck so it is great to now work together on trying to bring didi rugby to families in the Burntwood and Willenhall areas,” said Graham.

A graphic promoting the launch of didi rugby Willenhall
didi rugby Willenhall

“I am hoping it is a very positive reaction to the launches,” he said. “I am sure there are loads of parents who are keen to get their kids outside, moving around and having fun after what we have been through with Covid.”

Vicky Macqueen said: “Graham’s record as a coach speaks for itself but he also has a real passion for getting youngsters, not only playing the game but encouraging them to be active and running around.

Local community

“It’s a strong rugby area around Burntwood and Willenhall and I am sure we will get a good reaction from the local community. We can’t wait to get going.”

If your child is between 18 months and six years of age, they can find out more information or book a place at Burntwood RFC on 24 April or Willenhall RFC on 1 May by emailing graham.smith@didirugby.com.

You can also book direct via our website’s ‘find a class’ page.

Read more: Professional rugby referee Sara Cox is didi rugby’s latest ambassador

WATCH MORE:

Find a didi rugby class in Suffolk at Ipswich Rugby Club

Find a didi rugby class in Suffolk at Ipswich Rugby Club

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Suffolk at Ipswich 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: Ipswich, Leiston, Saxmundham, Aldeburgh, Snape, Yoxford, Thorpeness, Knodishall, Kelsale, Westleton, Middleton

Ipswich Rugby Club

Humber Doucy Lane
Ipswich
Suffolk
IP4 3PZ

Suffolk classes ran by didi rugby Suffolk

Contact Dale Hoffman – 07597 084142    
dale.hoffman@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

Book a Class

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Book a didi rugby birthday party in the Burntwood and Willenhall area

Book a didi rugby birthday party in the Burntwood and Willenhall area

Are you looking for somewhere to celebrate your child’s birthday in a safe, fun and sporty environment?

Do you want your little ones to be active, involved and having a laugh with their friends?

didi rugby birthday parties are a great way for us to put a smile on your child’s face on their special day in the didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall area.

Your choice of venue anywhere in the Burntwood and Willenhall didi rugby area

click here to find out more about didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

Contact Graham Smith – 07804 700948    
graham.smith@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

Book a Party

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Find a didi rugby class in Burntwood and Willenhall at Willenhall Rugby Union FC

Find a didi rugby class in Burntwood and Willenhall at Willenhall Rugby Union FC

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes in Burntwood and Willenhall at Willenhall Rugby Union FC. 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: Burntwood and Willenhall.

Willenhall Rugby Union FC

25 Bognop Road
Essington
Wolverhampton
West Midlands
WV11 2BA

click here to find out more about didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

Contact Graham Smith –  07804 700948 
graham.smith@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 Burntwood and Willenhall at Burntwood Rugby Club

Find a didi rugby class in Burntwood and Willenhall at Burntwood Rugby Club

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes in Burntwood and Willenhall at Burntwood 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: Burntwood and Willenhall.

Burntwood Rugby Club

The Sportsway
Chasetown
Burntwood
Staffordshire
WS7 3PH

click here to find out more about didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

Contact Graham Smith –  07804 700948 
graham.smith@didirugby.com

A rugby player kicks a rugby ball off the ground

Book a Class

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Find a didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

About didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

Contact – 07804 700948  
graham.smith@didirugby.com

Graham Smith – didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall

I have been coaching for over 30 years, the development of our young children is vital to the legacy of sport and health. I am passionate about helping coaches, parents and young people, in my experience with players at all levels using multi skilled activities is vital to develop.

Book a class in the didi rugby Burntwood and Willenhall area

didi rugby classes are given the green light to return outdoors

A traffic light with a green light on show

didi rugby classes have been given the green light to return to outdoor sessions from March 29.

Provision for schools and nurseries will start three weeks earlier on March 8.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the decision to allow children’s outdoor sport classes when providing the Houses of Parliament with his ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’ speech on February 22.

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said she was delighted with the decision.

“This has been an incredibly hard time for our members at classes around the country,” said Vicky.

Local coaches

“Our little didi stars have missed seeing their friends both at school and at our classes and they have missed interacting with our local coaches who they are used to seeing and having fun with every week.

“And, as a parent of two young boys myself, I know exactly what parents have been going through during this latest lockdown trying to work and homeschool at the same time.

“I am delighted that my own children can return to school from March 8 and I am delighted that our didi rugby classes can re-start outdoors from March 29.”

didi rugby classes saw a huge uplift in numbers after the first national lockdown in 2020 came to an and Vicky says she – and her coaches around the country – are expecting an even bigger uptake this time around.

Sporting activity

“It came as no surprise to us that after being stuck inside for so long during last Spring and early Summer, children and parents were desperate to get back to some organised sporting activity,” said Vicky.

“We made sure that, as soon as we got the green light to return, we had safety procedures in place to offer security to children, parents and our incredible band of coaches.

“When parents saw what we were doing to make our classes as safe as possible, the support and trust we got in return was incredible. Our classes filled up again and we made sure that our part of the bargain also included having lots of fun.

“We have been through the process of starting again from lockdown before so we are primed and ready to get our sessions back up and running again and we can’t wait to see our didi stars and their parents back having some fun and learning with us.

Online activities

“I just want to personally thank our wonderful local coaches, members and ambassadors who have stuck by us during lockdown and supported us by attending the range of online activities we have provided.”

All local coaches will be in touch with current members to inform them of the dates of times of their upcoming classes.

Indoor classes are allowed to resume from April 12.

Anyone parent wanting to book a free taster session for their child can find their local class online at www.didirugby.com under the ‘Find a Class’ tab.

Read more: Schools should be measured on physical activity provision

Watch More:  Can you complete Vicky’s Lockdown Challenge…?

 

 

didi rugby live half-term sessions reaches over 30,000 people

didi ambassador Natasha 'Mo' Hunt

didi rugby’s live online coaching sessions on Facebook during the February half-term reached over 30,000 people.

The ‘didi rugby half-term squad’ offered varied skills sessions every morning at 9am – thanks to Vicky Macqueen from didi rugby Midlands, Vicky Alexander from didi Rugby Cobham, Kerri Arlando from didi rugby Grantham, Ros Wiggins from didi Rugby Stone and Stafford and Keith Smith from didi rugby Cheltenham.

Jodie Ounsley doing a Facebook live broadcast for didi rugby
Jodie Ounsley doing a Facebook live broadcast for didi rugby

 And there was also England international Jodie Ounsley and Wales international and coach of didi Rugby South Wales, Robyn Lock doing Skills and Storytime sessions on Wednesday and Friday evening at 6.00pm.

Add to those figures, the numbers from previous Skills and Storytime live broadcasts by the likes of England internationals, Heather Fisher, Nolli Waterman, Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt and Sarah Hunter mean that over 85,000 people have been reached by didi’s special live broadcasts on Facebook.

didi rugby live

didi rugby CEO and founder Vicky Macqueen said the figures showed just how well didi rugby live had engaged with members and their families during the latest lockdown.

“We knew from the first national lockdown in 2020 that our online offerings gave parents and children a big buzz during what was a difficult time at home for everyone.

“So, we were determined to make sure that we kept our didi stars busy, active and having fun during the latest lockdown too. We pledged to keep our members busy and give them something to look forward to every week and, with the help of our amazing didi rugby ambassadors and our wonderful coaches around the country, we have done that.

Having fun

“Until our classes are allowed to re-start again outside, we will be continuing to make sure our members are engaged and having fun.

“We were determined not just to leave our members to themselves during lockdowns and wanted to give them a chance to engage with their local coaches that they are used to seeing every week, as well as our high-profile ambassadors.

“The feedback we have received from our members has been wonderful and some of the pictures we have been sent of children taking part in our online classes has melted my heart.”

Read more: ‘We are by your side: didi rugby’s pledge to members during lockdown’

WATCH: When will didi rugby classes be back…?

 

AMBASSADOR: Jodie Ounsley heard the amazing news at Nandos

new didi rugby ambassador Jodie Ounsley wearing a red didi hoodie

didi rugby’s latest ambassador was eating at a Nandos restaurant when she got some of the best news of her life.

It was so unexpected though, she thought her parents’ surprise card was a complete wind-up.

Jodie Ounsley sat with her mum and dad eating chicken when she prized open an envelope from her mum.

It said: ‘Congratulations on your first professional rugby contract with England’!

When her parents Jo and Phil convinced her it was no joke, confusion turned to shock… and then excitement.

The girl from Yorkshire who was born profoundly deaf in both ears was now an England Rugby Sevens player.

Communication

Jodie loved every minute of training with her new team-mates who she said ‘did everything possible’ to make things as easy as possible with communication an obvious challenge on the training and playing surface.

Head coach Charlie Hayter said of Jodie after she joined the camp: “She showed some great physical attributes so we wanted to offer her a contract.

“Since she arrived, she has fitted in really well with the rest of the team and made great progress. Jodie loves a bit of banter and she puts extra hours in to make sure that she really understands what we are doing too.”

new didi rugby ambassador Jodie Ounsley wearing a red didi hoodie
didi rugby ambassador Jodie Ounsley

Sevens team mate and head coach of didi rugby Worcester, Alex Matthews said Jodie was a joy to be around.

“Fortunately for me, I was Jodie’s mentor in the Sevens programme, which to be honest, I think benefited me more so than her,” said Alex.

“Her resilience and dedication is unbelievable, not only shown through her training and mindset, but also shown off the field through her personal circumstances of overcoming being born profoundly deaf and having integrated into a team sport.

“She’s modest and authentic, with the natural desire to help and inspire others. She’s a brilliant ambassador to have on board at didi!”

While Covid-19 has made her Sevens future uncertain for the time being, she is determined and very driven to be back with a bang when competitive England Sevens rugby returns.

Until then, playing for Sale Sharks and being a didi rugby ambassador are two of the things that will keep her busy – and she is throwing herself into the latter with a live Facebook broadcast in didi’s ‘Skills and Storytime’ online session during the latest national lockdown.

Jodie Ounsley

“I was really nervous doing it but wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Jodie. “But I really loved it and had great fun.

“didi rugby is great for kids. It gets them active, mixing with other children and gets them into good habits at a young age. I am really pleased to be an ambassador and will love getting involved.”

didi rugby CEO and founder Vicky Macqueen added: “Jodie is a joy to be around and her attitude is infectious.

“She was brilliant doing our Skills and Storytime session online (see pic below) and we are absolutely made-up that she has chosen to become a didi ambassador.

Jodie Ounsley doing a Facebook live broadcast for didi rugby
Jodie Ounsley doing a Facebook live broadcast for didi rugby

“I am sure she will be inspiring lots of other youngsters to take up the sport and join our classes in the coming months.”

Jodie was born without hearing but a Cochlear ear implant and speech therapy has vastly improved her ability to communicate with speech.

Champion

Even so, life was far from easy at a mainstream school and she became drawn away from academic pursuits and into the sporting environment. PE, athletics and running were things she loved doing and success soon followed.

She is a five-times champion of the annual ‘Coal Race’ in her native Yorkshire where you literally run for a mile with a bag on coal on your shoulders!

Ju-Jitsu titles arrived in her teens and then she flew to Turkey as a 16-year-old to compete against fully-grown women in the 100m and 200m Deaf Olympics.

By then, rugby was already on the horizon but doctors had warned against the dangers of playing contacts sports like rugby with the implant. Her dad looked into it and was satisfied that that danger would be greatly reduced with a scrum cap on.

Hearing issues

“I soon rocked up at my local club, Sandal, with a scrum cap and boots and explained I was keen to play but had hearing issues,” Jodie Ounsley explained.

“They threw me quickly into a side and then threw me onto a pitch where I really didn’t have much of a club what was going on. I found myself on the wing and when I first went for the ball, I literally tripped up over my own shoelace! I picked up the ball and just ran for my life. Somehow, I passed a few people and scored a try. It was exhilarating and I loved it.

Jodie got a place at Loughborough College aged 16 and left home ‘to play rugby’.

There was soon age-range appearances for England but her rugby career really took off after she had recovered from a dislocated shoulder.

Olympic Games

Then came the Nandos with mum and dad, an England Sevens deal, a new club in Sale Sharks, the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year 2020 award and a driving ambition to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games still firmly in her thoughts.

“I would say to anyone who struggles with a disability, just go for it and try rugby,” said Jodie. “Don’t let your disability not be the reason for giving rugby a go.”

Read more: New ambassador Sara Cox joins didi rugby

Read more: didi rugby are by your side during lockdown with online classes

WATCH: MBE Richard Cheetham on why he is supporting didi rugby…

 

 

 

AMBASSADOR: Professional rugby referee Sara Cox is didi rugby’s latest ambassador

didi rugby ambassador Referee Sara Cox looks to one side and smiles

Professional rugby referee Sara Cox is didi rugby’s latest ambassador.

And she is keen to support classes that will teach youngsters the ‘valuable social skills’ to help them grow as individuals from an early age.

Sara first got involved in rugby when she was 14 and represented local clubs Exeter, Saracens and Cullompton before she retired from playing the game at the age of 17.

Undeterred, Sara qualified as a rugby referee, officiated her first international when Italy played Ireland in 2014, added the World Cup in France to her CV and, in 2016, became the first female ref to be centrally contracted by the English RFU.

Career

In 2020, she was assistant referee at the Bath v Wasps men’s game in the Gallagher Premiership, with her first appointment in the middle of a top tier English game surely only a matter of time away.

While’s Sara’s professional career goes from strength to strength, she is also studying for a MSc at Edinburgh Napier University and is determined to encourage as many youngsters as possible to get involved in didi rugby and learn skills to help them succeed in life.

didi rugby ambassador Sara Cox raises a flag
didi rugby ambassador Sara Cox

“Getting involved in didi rugby at an early age teaches children lots of different things,” said Sara. “It’s less about the rugby at that age and more about the interaction with other kids and learning social skills along the way.

“In all walks of life, at any age, you will always have to deal with other human beings and the earlier you start to learn the skills required to do that, you can carry that on into adulthood.”

Sara Cox

Having been a shining light for women’s progress in rugby, Sara is obviously keen for young girls to take up a sport that has been very good to her.

And she is encouraging girls of any age to take on the challenges that may come their way.

“Humans have challenges in all walks of life and in whatever they do,” said Sara. “We all have hurdles to get over and the challenges do not stop. You have to keep moving with the times and embrace what comes your way.”

Role model

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen says the whole didi rugby team is excited to have Sara on board.

“Not only is Sara a wonderful referee and a great person, she is an inspiration to any youngster taking up the sport,” says Vicky.

“Sara has decided to become a didi rugby ambassador and support our efforts to get young people active and having fun. Her determination is a great example to young people and she is a fantastic role model too. ”

Follow Sara on Twitter here

Read more: ‘We are by your side during lockdown’ – didi rugby’s pledge to parents and youngsters  

Watch…England star Alex Matthews launches didi rugby Worcester: