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Mike Tindall on the Six Nations, Minchinhampton grassroots rugby, Charlie Sharples, family life and getting in shape for cycling challenge

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Stroud Times had a chat with former England Rugby World Cup winner and Gloucester legend Mike Tindall.

Ash Loveridge sat down with the rugby icon to discuss a number of topics, including the part grassroots rugby at Minchinhampton plays a part in Tindall’s life, his thoughts on Charlie Sharples’ retirement, the Six Nations and much more.

Listen to Mike Tindall from his Gatcombe Park home in our unabridged audio clip now.

‘Back in the Game’ follows on from England Rugby’s ‘Pitch Up For Rugby’ campaign in September, when grassroots rugby was finally able to return to normal and league fixtures resumed after an 18 month enforced break. 

As we continue to rebuild post-Covid, the game’s looking pretty good for minis & juniors, the women and girls’ game seems to be going well and 1st XV men’s teams are solid. However, while initial data suggests we have roughly the same number of players still involved in the game, those players are playing less regularly as they’ve found alternative things to do or have developed other commitments at weekends during the pandemic. As 1st XV sometimes needs to take players from 2nd XVs, this puts pressure on 2nd, 3rd, 4th (social) XVs to field teams and complete fixtures. 

The aim of ‘Back in the Game’ is to encourage more social XV players, particularly in the senior men’s game, to get back on the pitch at their local rugby clubs. 

Research by various sporting bodies has indicated a change in habits across a number of grassroots sports following Covid. People have got out of the habit of playing each weekend or going to training twice a week. The goal is to remind people why it’s worth reversing that trend, help them to remember the fun they can have and what they love about being part of a rugby team/club.  

We know that nostalgia and reminding people of what they miss can have a big impact on behaviour. Our internal research showed the biggest motivation to return was players being able to socialise with their friends.  

Further research commissioned by The National Lottery earlier this season showed the positive mental health benefits of being part of a rugby club, including:

  • For 75% of club rugby players, not being able to properly participate in club rugby had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. 
  • 58% stated that what they missed most was the team chats and camaraderie, and a further 38% said that they missed having rugby as an outlet for day-to-day stresses.
  • 86% of those involved in community rugby stated that playing and being involved in their local team or club has a positive impact on their mental health. 
  • For a third of those connected to community rugby, their club or team is at the centre of their social life.
  • For 45% of club members, finding friends in adulthood that they have something in common with was what promoted their involvement in grassroots rugby in the first place. 
  • One in four (27%) stated the single biggest impact being part of community rugby has had is how it helped them feel less isolated and part of their local area. 
  • 40% of those asked said they would feel less involved in their local community if they weren’t part of their club.

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