It’s a walk in the park

It’s amazing…. and you don’t have to have played rugby before…. it’s a game in its own right and it offers the camaraderie and social forum usually associated with the 15 man game.

A selection of the Walking Rugby lads and lasses, taking a breather


In April 2019, Stephen ‘Chaos’ Branch, Mike Keeling, Bob Cooke, Pete White and David Mair joined Jim and Nettie Wallace from Manchester in an experiment sponsored by the Sale Sharks community rugby team to introduce walking rugby at the Club. A small number, the magnificent seven, to start with; but that actually helped in learning the rules of the game, and particularly in mastering the art of walking fast and resisting the temptation to break in to a trot; a skill that, to this day, some have still not mastered.  Since the 30th April the number of people to have registered to play walking rugby has exceeded 45 with at least 20 turning out most weeks; a testament to the appeal of the game.

Mike Keeling, one of the magnificent seven, and a rugby player for most of his life, summed it up when he said: “I jumped at the chance to try this. A little bit sceptical at first, but it’s given me two wonderful opportunities.  Firstly, the chance to maintain my links with the game by actually playing rather than just watching and also to meet a whole load of wonderful people I would probably have never met. I have a new ‘team’ of friends to share rugby with”. 

Bob Cooke, another of the originals and an experienced player for many years, was thrilled at the idea of walking rugby: “As an ex-player, the idea of recapturing a little of the joy of playing rugby, but slower, was irresistible.  Some of the other walking rugby players have never played rugby before and they soon pick it up and fit in seamlessly. The social aspect is massive too, the characters and banter that always goes with rugby, especially on the interpretation of the rules!”. 

It is quite simple really and is basically a form of touch rugby (No tackles, No scrummages, no kicking) played at a walk generating as much ‘pace’ as one can. The reactions by some people when approached to join the fun were interesting: “Walking Rugby…. REALLY!”; “Walking Rugby – Never”. Then, having been persuaded to come along and experience the game for themselves; their views rapidly changed: “How wrong I was; I didn’t think walking rugby would do anything for me but it does, great camaraderie, banter, good exercise, competition, beer in the bar afterwards”.

Would a bit of cardio be good for you? Do you enjoy banter with an eclectic mix of people? Are you less than 100yrs old but over 18? Are you looking for a reason to meet a new bunch of friends? If the answer is YES then come down and give it a try. You will be surprised how much fun it really is”.

Mark, a gentleman of a certain age, had never played rugby before and was persuaded by a good friend and member of Macclesfield Rugby Club that he might like to try walking rugby. Mark says “I have to admit I was nervous but I thought I would give it a go. My first concern was what to wear, as I struggled into a pair of old shorts, an old shirt and some old trainers. I needn’t have worried; to my surprise there was a mixture of rugby shirts, old T shirts and even someone in an old pair of jeans. The truth is no one cares what you wear. What about the rules? Well it turns out walking rugby is based on touch rugby. There is no kicking, no scrums, no posts; there is not even a full-size pitch. We just mark out a pitch big enough to accommodate the numbers on the night. Apparently, there is a rule about offside, but I’m pretty sure no one understands that one either. We don’t even usually have a referee but police the game ourselves. I struggled at first with the walking bit. The first time, someone passed the ball to me I saw a gap and ran as fast as I could; how we laughed.  After that first night, I ached for a week. It does require a bit of effort, but everyone goes at their own pace. It is a truly friendly and welcoming group of people. Some have played rugby all of their lives and some, like me, have never played before. You soon pick it up and I have even had a few compliments. Apparently, I have a good pair of hands, whatever that means. And there’s always an excuse for a drink and a pie in the clubhouse afterwards; I can’t wait to get going again”.

Sam says: “As a middle-aged single mum who’d never played rugby in her life before, I was slightly nervous about my first walking rugby training session, to say the least. I needn’t have worried – I was made to feel so welcome, and it’s now the highlight of my week. It’s physically harder than you might think, but in a good way, and although we often get caught in all weathers during training, it just makes the drinks afterwards in the bar even more satisfying.

Phil had not played rugby for over 35 years and came along one Thursday evening lured by the opportunity to throw a rugby ball around again: “What a great decision it proved to be from the moment I stepped foot on the field. The welcome I received from the walking rugby group and the camaraderie that only Rugby as a sport can give, in the bar afterwards means that Thursday nights come rain, hail or sunshine, can’t come round quick enough”.

The walking Rugby group meets every Thursday evening at 7pm and plays on the astro pitch at the rugby Club until the evenings get lighter when the group play on grass. Playing is followed by a pie and a pint afterwards in the Clubhouse. Thursday night is Club night and is well attended, the senior teams train, as do the touch rugby and walking rugby groups and everyone enjoys a bit of a social afterwards.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the fun when it resumes please keep an eye on the Macclesfield Rugby Club Website or contact the General Manager, Andy Appleyard, contact details are on the Website, we would love to see you.

Our website is kept up to date and contains detailed information on all areas of rugby at the club and also on the social events and functions, many of which are open to non-members. Well worth keeping an eye on.


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