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 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…



England captain Sarah Hunter speaks at didi rugby annual conference

Sarah Hunter (left) stands with Vicky Macqueen and Italy international Sara Tounesi

England captain and didi rugby ambassador Sarah Hunter spoke passionately about her career and the personal drive she has needed throughout it when she addressed franchise owners at didi rugby’s annual conference in Hinckley.

The 34-year-old, who has an incredible 119 caps ahead of this year’s upcoming Women’s Six Nations has been a didi rugby ambassador since the early days of the business.

She played the early days of her career with didi rugby CEO and founder Vicky Macqueen when Vicky was coming to the end of her time as an international.

The Loughborough Lightning No.8 said she was happy to break away from her preparations for the Six Nations to address franchise owners from across the UK and give them some ideas of what it takes to get to the top – and try to stay there.

“We spoke about my experience in rugby and how I have managed to achieve a few things but we also spoke about the setbacks I have been through and how sport and business often correlate on that front,” said Sarah.


“It is often a rollercoaster ride overcoming setbacks and then setting goals to remind yourself what you want to achieve and how you are going to get it back on track.

“I feel passionately about didi rugby. It was an easy decision to get involved with it after I had heard Vicky’s ideas.

“When I saw her vision, that sold it for me. Not just for the fundamentals around getting young children to be fit and active – but also to help them interact with other kids. That bigger picture is very important for young children.

“I love rugby and have played since I was nine but I didn’t have that opportunity to play it at a young age. For young children to learn all these skills at didi rugby and catch the rugby bug is important.

World Cup winner

World Cup winner Sarah was awarded an MBE in 2016 for her services to the game and also became World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in the same year.

More recently, she led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam last season, her latest medal in a glittering career.

“It was amazing that Sarah found the time to come and speak to our didi franchise holders at such a busy time for her,” said Vicky.

“She has always been a fantastic advocate of what we are trying to do and we are very grateful for her continued support not only to our classes but also our franchise holders and coaches who are implementing the vision we have to get children active while having fun and growing in confidence.”

  • Howzat? didi cricket classes are launching this month

didi rugby founder Vicky Macqueen becomes an RFU Level 4 coach

didi rugby CEO Vicky Macqueen smiling after becoming an RFU Level 4 coach

The founder and CEO of didi rugby, Vicky Macqueen, has become an RFU Level 4 coach after 18 months of study.

It means she is one of less than 10 women in the country to hold such a prestigious coaching position, which is designed and delivered by the game’s governing body, the Rugby Union.

She joins fellow Level 4-holders Wasps director of rugby Giselle Mather and soon-to-be Exeter Chiefs Women’s head coach, Susie Appleby, who is also a didi rugby franchise holder.

Although Vicky said she would like to get involved in similar high-level coaching one day, she said her 100% commitment at the moment was to the continued growth of didi rugby.

And she believes that large parts of the information she learned studying to become an RFU Level 4 coach will help grow and improve didi rugby in the future.

“It has been an amazing process with so much to learn and I feel really privileged to have completed it,” said Vicky. “It has taught me a lot in terms of rugby leadership but for didi rugby too because there is lots of coaching, management and psychology involved.

Level 4 coach

“There are so many aspects to achieving Level 4 and it has been a great educational experience for me.

“There is a massive overlap between business and sport and this has bought everything together for me to help enhance didi rugby.

“The growth of didi means I need to be 100% involved in the business and the mentoring of franchise holders at the minute. But I love coaching and being out on the field so taking on a role with a club in the future in definitely in my sights…if I get the time!

Vicky was approached by the RFU to join their coach educator team a couple of years ago and that is another string to her bow in terms of helping and mentoring coaches of the future.

RFU Framework

She was also inviting to consult on the RFU’s Early Years Framework – released earlier in 2019 – to help clubs focus in on the best ways to develop children’s interest in the sport from a very young age.

didi rugby plays an active part in helping clubs implement that framework and has developed formal links with clubs in England to create a natural pathway for children to keep playing the game when they graduate from didi rugby age groups.

With Vicky designing all of the programmes and care at didi rugby, parents can be assured that their kids are in very good hands and are being taught all of the right things if they come to a didi rugby class.

Book your child in for a free taster session at a didi rugby class around the country:

WATCH MORE: didi rugby’s Vicky Macqueen was thrilled to be invited to consult on the RFU’s Early Years Framework programme