Members sat on pub benches
If the sun is out the members chat outside Cwmbran RFC

A new club is meeting in Cwmbran where members get together to chat and remember sport.  Sporting Memories has teamed up with the Dragons Community who are starting up sessions across Gwent.

They encourage older adults to socialise, talk about sport and build friendships. Across the UK there are over 120 clubs and I went along to the one at Cwmbran RFC to find out more.

Two people sat in a rugby club
Members meet in the lounge at Cwmbran RFC

Members meet in the lounge room which is decorated with dozens of framed rugby shirts. This was a good location as you can imagine the memories shared in this room over the years. I was given a warm welcome by Ian from Cwmbran RFC, Karen and Gareth from Dragons Community and Nikki from Sporting Memories.

The session started and I quickly understood how this daytime club for getting older people together, chatting and laughing worked. And there was a lot of laughing. Ian held up a rugby ball and said whoever had the ball had to share a memory of sport. Each memory led to questions or comments. Once a memory was shared the ball was passed to someone else in the room.

A rugby ball
The Sporting Memories rugby ball

Random conversations are the best thing about meeting up with friends.  I loved listening to so many stories and seeing the emotions in people’s body language as they told them.  Sport is a brilliant way to bring people together.

Some of the memories shared by members included:

  • Someone’s son getting “Man of the Match” in a rugby game at 16 and being presented with a “slab of beer”.
  • The 1958 World Cup and owning a shirt worn by Pele.
  • Falling in love with Formula One racing after being persuaded to go to Brands Hatch “in the days when you could buy a ticket on the door”. He said he was “hooked” after being in such an exciting place with so much noise and smells
  • Going to Royal Ascot and being lucky enough to get tickets to hospitality.
  • Going to Donnington Park despite having “no interest in motorbikes” but realising that “watching it live is nothing like on the telly. The atmosphere was incredible.”
  • Standing in the stands at singing the Welsh national anthem at rugby matches.
  • Hosting visiting rugby teams from countries including Canada and Argentina and having players stay in their home.
  • Leading a horse at Newbury Races and nearly being bumped by the Queen Mother’s car.
    Taking a youth rugby team player to hospital with an injury and later his mum dropped off a Sunday lunch to their house as a thank-you.
  • Having an under 14s rugby team from Argentina visit Cwmbran their coach was a tall man. “He was about 7ft and was a nightclub bouncer. Someone asked him “Do you have any trouble in your club and it wasn’t a surprise when he said ‘no.'”
  • Being in a choir sing on the Principality Stadium pitch before Wales played Tonga. “We had to learn the Tongan national anthem.” Luckily the mum of one of the junior team’s players was from Tonga and she spent time with the choir to teach them.
  • Watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from ‘turn 11’ as his son managed the recovery teams.
Karen from Dragons Community with some of the memory photos
Karen from Dragons Community with some of the memory photos

Tea, coffee and biscuits are free so everyone sat back and relaxed with a cuppa during this part. The sun was out and during the break the members went outside. A session also includes a bit of light exercise like indoor bowls.

Karen from Dragons Community showed me the set of ‘guess the faces’ cards that feature a sporting star- and these are used to kickstart a conversation about the person, the moment in the photo or the sport.

A spot the ball competition
Members take part in quizzes and spot the ball

Gareth Sullivan, Head of inclusion at Dragons rugby said: “ The impact and engagement that we are seeing in the local community is growing with the support of Cwmbran RFC, numbers are growing on a weekly basis and it is amazing to see the members reminisce from times gone by. Ian Evans has been fantastic in supporting us and championing the need for more community activities locally to engage people who need it most.

“Inclusion in all demographics is something we at Dragons community are passionate about and the support of local clubs is paramount to us achieving our goal. As Dragons sporting memories grows so does our desire to widen our footprint around our region and engage as many people as possible.”

Join Sporting Memories at Cwmbran RFC

Pop along from 11.15am to 1.15pm on Tuesdays. You will be made very welcome by the team.


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