Rugby World Cup legacy promotes the game in the Axarquía
A group of 50 rugby players from Northumbria University were in Torre del Mar and Vélez-Málaga this week, accompanied by coaches Darren Fearn and Jason Payne, along with Director of Rugby Mark Richard, and Tom Richards, a board member of Northumberland Rugby Union. They were in the area as part of the Unity Project, a programme set up as part of the 2015 Rugby World Cup legacy, to raise the profile of the game in European countries where it is currently not a major sport.
During their four-day stay, the players trained at Vélez-Málaga’s San Fernando stadium and have been working alongside Spanish coaches and players in the Axarquía to provide training to develop all aspects of rugby, in particular coaching and refereeing.
Tom Richards said: “We are hoping to attract interest from rugby clubs in the area and build up enough support to repeat the trip in the future.” As part of this trip, the Northumberland group brought with them six rugby balls to donate to the Axarquía and are hoping to get schools on board in the future.
Both Tom and Mark highlight that this is an “exciting time” for Spanish rugby thanks to their achievements in the sport at this year’s Olympics in Brazil and narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2015 World Cup.
For the players who have been visiting, most of whom are students at Northumbria University, one of the biggest concerns has been dealing with the heat and humidity. Rugby union coach, Darren Fearn, said: “This is a great opportunity to get in some intensive pre-season training, but it is hot so we need to bear that in mind and take plenty of breaks.”
They stayed at the Hotel Mainake in Torre del Mar and used Vals gym, which is opposite, as well the beach and San Fernando stadium for training sessions.
“The hotel, gym and San Fernando staff couldn’t have been more helpful and we really are really grateful to Vélez-Málaga town hall,” said Tom Richards, who has a home in Riogordo, where he lives for around six months of the year.surinenglish