Why Grassroots matters.
Last weekend I got to fulfil a dream, a once in a lifetime unattainable dream. I got to go to the home of not just English rugby, but the game of rugby. The physics embodiment of our global game, Twickenham.
This wasn’t like the last time I was here on a bleak day in November to see England robbed against the All Blacks. (It was a try.) for every fan a trip to HQ is an experience, be it for an epic 6 national battle or to watch the Baa Baa’s play their unique brand of champagne rugby.
This time the players taking the field would include me amongst their number. Me, a player of just two seasons, a senior in age rather than skill. How did this happen, well it was thanks to NatWest who provide grants to rugby clubs across England. This year they decide to showcase the game at the opposite end of the spectrum to those normally seen on the hallowed turf at Twickenham. The NatWest Grassroots Invitational invited players from across the country to put together a women’s and man’s teams from the North and South. The teams were invited to come together for one training day only before taking the field together on 9th June.
Belatedly I get to my main point. Why grassroots matters. It matters because, yes it’s how we begin those precious few players on their journey to stardom, but it really matters because of what it means to all of us who took part, our families and our clubs. The players all gained new skills and friends for life. Our families got to experience their loved ones on the biggest stage and sit in seats normally reserved for the great and good, and take those stories home to their friends, colleagues, etc. Our clubs got to have one (or more) of their own actually play at their national stadium, they get to share that message with their other members, the local press and show that in rugby, grassroots matters.
Grassroots matters because it’s for the love of the game, it’s for the friendships made and stories shared, the experiences to come and those gone by, we live by our core values, we like a drink and a singsong and we love our game. Grassroots matters because it is a community and open to everyone. Come down to you local club and see what you’ve been missing.