Festival of Rugby Pleases Steele

LIBRARY IMAGE. Phil Steele interviewing Alan Wilkins. Image by Callum Ellis

by Nathan Parker

A festival of rugby was played out at the Principality stadium on Monday afternoon as a thousand people from different backgrounds around Wales came together.

The day included walking and mixed ability rugby as well as history being made with the first ever all gay match at the national stadium between the Swansea Vikings and Cardiff Lions.

After a jam-packed weekend of rugby, the festival was introduced to celebrate the abilities of athletes of all ages and sexes on the biggest stage.

One of the hundreds involved was BBC’s very own Phil Steele who called it a ‘fantastic event’.

Steele, who took part in the walking rugby, said, “It was a great day. The walking rugby was especially good as it is aimed at people in my age bracket over 50 and it’s not just great for their health or aerobic benefits, but it also helps with the social aspect”.

“It has been extremely beneficial also for people with mental health issues and I spoke to one person in particular who said it had really helped him to get out of the house and have a bit of banter”.

“It’s the second time I’ve taken part in the event. You have a cup of tea and talk with the opposition and it almost takes you back to when we all started playing the game”.

The walking rugby was followed by three matches for players with mixed ability and is a type of rugby that is very close to Steele’s heart.

He said, “I have a disabled nephew and also taught special needs kid’s for around 15 years so disability and mixed ability is in my DNA”.

“It was great to see as it gives able bodied player’s a chance to see the other side of the coin and it also helped them to see the difficulties of the mixed ability players”.

“It really does level the playing the field because your on the same pitch with the same ball playing against or alongside someone who has a degree from oxford or Cambridge”.

“The WRU have done a wonderful job with this event and it doesn’t matter whether your a cornel of a regiment or a private, when your out on a rugby pitch you are all just rugby players”.

The final part of the day was an historic match between two of the very few openly gay teams in Wales.

The Swansea Vikings came out on top defeating Cardiff Lions 17-14, but the result was insignificant compared to the occasion of having the two teams play each other at the national stadium.

“People in rugby are a lot more accepting now and  showcasing a gay rugby match is brilliant but true equality will come when we don’t have to create gay rugby teams and they are involved in their own clubs”, said Steele.

Needless to say the day was a great success with hundreds of people of all ages enjoying a day of playing the sport they love at the Principality Stadium.