Over the course of the next few months as we continue our #ReturnToPlay across England and Wales, we wanted to give you a flavour of what it is like being a member of the Dallaglio RugbyWorks squad.

All of our squad are fiercely committed to supporting the young people we work with and guiding them on the right path to success – whether that be in further education, employment or training opportunities.

For our latest TeamTalk, we handed over duties to Rob Thomson, one of our Delivery Co-ordinators based in the North East. Here, Rob discusses his role in the organisation, and how the programme was going before the latest lockdown. 

At Dallaglio RugbyWorks, I am the Delivery Co-ordinator in the North East of England, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. My role involves working with the Mentors and Coaches in my region to run a mix of classroom and sports field sessions based around the principals of rugby; teamwork, discipline and respect. We also work to build the young person’s employability skills, so they can look positively towards their next step post-school.

Over the last few months, we have been focused on Moorbridge school in North Tyneside, who have been very supportive of the Dallaglio RugbyWorks programme. We are working with a group of Y11 students that we also worked with last year. They are a fun and keen group that are starting to work towards their exams, so are keen to engage in the programme. We are also working with a group of Y10s, who are both enthusiastic and excitable.

One of the regrets of the past year for me was that lockdown truncated the last part of the 2019-20 school year. This meant we were unable to really support the young people we worked with during a time where they needed that extra support when moving on from school. As well as this, I personally found it hard on furlough, as it was hard not being able to plan and work to develop the programme. While my wife was a key worker so kept working, it was a very different time, and took some getting used to. It even meant I did the DIY jobs I had been putting off for years!

When we returned from the previous lockdown, I found the young people were still quite distracted and unruly, which is not surprising. They also did not concentrate for any length of time, which can be frustrating when they have so much potential. A challenge has been getting them to improve their language in sessions. To improve their lives, I would help them to understand that they have the chance to make the most important and influential decisions that affect their lives. These decisions have the potential to be the most positive decisions they will make and have a massive impact on their next few years.

Over the coming months, I’m looking forward to getting into new schools to start working with more young people, so we can have a positive influence on their lives and help them get ready for their next steps. I have also had a beach rugby festival planned (for almost a year now) so fingers crossed it can happen this school year.

It’s very important to get our message out to the public, and make them understand the issues that these young people are undergoing. They need someone to help and support them in their desires to achieve their goals in life, not just now but moving forward into adulthood.