By James Lloyd
Wales captain Sam Warburton was amongst the stars on show to launch the new TACKLE scheme to keep teenagers playing rugby.
Warburton was joined by fellow Wales internationals, Alun-Wyn Jones, Gareth Davies and Cardiff University student, Hallam Amos at Aberdare Community School to promote the campaign backed by BT Sport.
The media outlet have injected £150,000 into the project and will aim to retain teenagers aged between 14-16 playing sport, especially in deprived areas.
Ryan Jones was another famous face in attendance and he explained the importance of the scheme. “It’s superb isn’t it”, said the ex-Welsh captain.
“We’ve seen boys and girls alike playing rugby and having lots of fun which I think is what we’re all about.
“I think this concept is great, it’s away from the norm of a cold, wet, muddy pitch, we’re on a fantastic surface. It’s about using rugby for the power of good really, it’s about engaging people in a different way.”
Jones is now the Head of Participation at the WRU (Welsh Rugby Union) and he added: “Rugby is a sport that we pride ourselves on fantastic values and trying to use those values to give children an opportunity in the future.
“I think in the last few months we’ve realised we’re all rugby people and we all largely want the same thing. We’re looking at where we can help each other to benefit the game.”
And Warburton, on the verge of returning from a fractured cheekbone, said: “I think you get used to dealing with pressures and dealing with defeats and being able to bounce back.”
He added: “I think it gives you a lot of life skills which I don’t think you realise you pick up along the way. But when I look back, I think I’m a very different person to when I first started playing.”
Fellow Cardiff Blues forward, Macauley Cook echoed the Welsh flanker’s thoughts and said: “It gives you focus and discipline. Some people without this focus in sport, not just rugby could go on different tracks and go off the rails, so I think it gives kids focus, it’s great.”
The 6ft 4 lock continued: “I’d love to keep getting involved and keeping it fun for the youngsters as that’s the main thing for young kids. They can lose interest if it’s not fun so for this age group you have to keep it entertaining.
“It’s good, we got smashed a few times on the pads by the youngsters, but it’s been fun really.”
In next week’s edition we exclusively speak to Hallam Amos on his life as a student and a professional rugby star.